by Taylor Dotson, student at Oklahoma Christian University
I was sitting in U!Shine's most recent seminar, "Conflict Happens" when the speaker, Marcina Simmons, asked the group this broad (and slightly terrifying) question: "How do you handle conflict?"
The answers varied from a humorous, "I don't" to a brave, "I address the person directly". I stayed dead silent because I knew my answer was a firm, "not well at all".
The speaker went on to talk about the ways people handle conflict, how they should handle it, and even why people handle conflict in different manners. She used her own knowledge from her extensive educational background and her own personal experiences to teach us about conflict.
She then introduced the group to something called the TKI Model which includes five primary ways that people handle conflict. The ways included avoiding, accommodating, compromising, competing, and collaborating. She emphasized the point that there is no one style that is the perfect answer for all conflict. Some situations might require collaborating with your group or team, some might require accommodating the other person, and so on. However, it was evident that some styles are better than others in certain situations. For example, one of the other students at the seminar brought up the point that you might not want to accommodate a burglar in your own home. Each style has their time and place.
She emphasized the point that there is no one style that is the perfect answer for every conflict.
The speaker paused here and gave us a few minutes to fill out a sheet about a recent conflict we experienced. I started to internally panic because my style of conflict-handling immediately presented itself. I didn't even want to write mine down. It was crystal clear that I avoid conflict like the plague.
Now don't get me wrong, I experience conflict. My co-workers and I disagree at times, my roommate can get on my nerves, and my friends sometimes say things that rub me the wrong way. But when I got to the "how did you address this conflict" part of the sheet, I couldn't give an answer because I couldn't think of a single recent conflict that I actually addressed and dealt with.
Sitting in this room, listening to the speaker, and filling out this sheet opened my eyes to the dangerous road I was heading down. If I keep avoiding conflict resolution, I will only have more conflict, more stress, and more anxiety. Handling conflict not only benefits the situation and the relationship you have with that person/group of people. It benefits you and your mental well-being.
Handling conflict not only benefits the situation and the relationship you have with that person/group of people. It benefits you and your mental well-being.
If I communicate my feelings and issues with my friends, maybe I won't get angry with them at random times. If I ask my roommate to do something differently, maybe I won't have so much anxiety. If I actually handle conflict instead of avoiding it, maybe I will live a happier, healthier life.
Conflict is something we are going to deal with for the rest of our lives. Whether it's with a roommate, a spouse, a coworker, or with ourselves, it's unavoidable.
Conflict happens. How do you handle it?
Our U!Shine Seminars are a 7 part seminar series designed to give every student a better understanding of their mental and emotional health. Our holistic seminars help students understand the science of our emotions and feelings, find spiritual strength and hope in God's love, and learn practical tools to help them better their well-being: mind, body, and spirit. The seminars are offered in the fall and spring semesters, and each are written and presented by trained professionals in the topic field. Find out more about our topics on our website.