Conflict is a reality in business. Because it usually takes more than one person to keep an enterprise going, inevitably there will come a time when the people involved don’t see eye to eye on something.

Even if you are self employed and don’t have any employees you probably still have to deal with clients and vendors in the course of your daily work. And I bet not everyone of them always see things exactly your way!

How do you face that conflict when it happens? If you were to step back, would you be able to recognize some recurring patterns in your conflict resolution?

I thought it might be helpful for you to put together a few business fighting styles so you can get a picture of how some folks deal with conflict.

Do you ever run into any of these folks during your work day?

Street Fighter
– The Street Fighter never shies away from any conflict. Instead he just plows in with whatever weapons are at hand. He often doesn’t bother to think through his position or think about opposing views. The Street Fighter will take on all comers and doesn’t much care whether it’s the boss, or the UPS guy. If he perceives someone as a threat, or if someone has an idea that he disagrees with, the Street Fighter will jump in and attempt to take them apart as quickly as possible.

Guerrilla Warrior – The Guerrilla Warrior, on the other hand, never comes straight at his opponent. He tends to be the passive-aggressive type. The Guerrilla Warrior prefers to put up a happy friendly front and fight his battles in the back ground by hitting his opponent in his perceived weakness. He is the master of the innuendo and the rumor. The Guerrilla Warrior’s favorite battle ground is the break room. He tends to fight all his battles behind the back of his enemies and you will only see the Guerrilla Warrior stand and fight when he gets cornered.

Carpet Bomber – The Carpet Bomber can be the most difficult person to be around. His volatile temper seems to be directed at every one all the time. The Carpet Bomber tries to keep everyone around him off balance so that no one ever knows what to expect. And he most likely thinks this is a good approach that makes him a really good leader. I had a Carpet Bomber as a boss one time and, even though I liked the work and the company, I didn’t last a year there. I wasn’t willing to work for someone like that.

Refugee – The Refugee hates conflict and always runs from it. While no one (except maybe the Carpet Bomber) actually relishes conflict, the Refugee has a particularly strong aversion to it and sees all conflict as bad. The Refugee will tend to avoid anyone that he has a current conflict with. This means that the Refugee can become a bottle neck of communication because he tends to not answer emails or return phone calls in his effort to avoid potential conflict.

Judo Master – The Judo Master is one of my own favorite techniques. He uses conflict momentum in his favor. The Judo Master will grab a problem firmly as it is coming at him, step aside out of its way, and toss it over to the appropriate party. Judo works best in jobs where others seem to chronically address their issues even though there is someone else at the business who really should deal with that particular problem. One of the Judo Master’s favorite phone phrases is, “Hold on a minute. Let me transfer you to…” The Judo Master sees his own time as too valuable to get in the middle of other people’s problems.

Conflict at work is going to happen. How do you deal with it?

What other techniques should we add to our list?

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