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Conflict Styles in Your SART

As we addressed last week with the weigh-in Wednesday question, conflict can be a scary thing for many folks. However, we all experience conflict at some point in our lives, which means that we all have our own ways of managing and participating in conflict. This is true of every single person in our SARTs—each person has a style for how they cope with and respond points of tension. The folks over at the United States Institute of Building Peace have developed a really accessible questionnaire to help folks figure out their primary modes of response to conflict in their lives. In working through the questions, you find yourself centered somewhere in five possible categories. The categories are: Accommodator, Avoider, Competer, Compromiser, and Problem Solver. What I really value about this tool is that it emphasizes the strengths and the potential weakness of each type and we are never just one type—we use different styles at different time.

When I took this assessment, I wasn’t surprised to find out that I most often use the styles of competer and compromiser. I know that I am much more prone towards the competer style in my personal life and the compromiser in my professional life. However, I can think of many examples where I used them both while leading a SART. More importantly, I think about the moments my team had points of tension, and I can now look back and think about who on my team was using a particular style. It helps me better understand how I could have worked with those team members during those moments of conflict as we worked through the tough issues of writing a protocol.

SARTs are pretty much guaranteed to experience conflict sooner or later. One of the most valuable tools we have at our disposals is to understand the styles with which we engage one another. As G.I. Joe always told us, “Knowing is half the battle.” Not that we are in battle with our SART members, even if it might sometimes feel like it.

Take a moment to think about yourself or other members on the team. Can you identify the styles that you have seen happen? How can you use this information with your team to help improve relationships and work through hard moments? Leave your thoughts below!