Do you keep a cool head when your ideas are criticized, but become condescending when the discussion takes emotional tones? Are you skilled at diffusing tensions between people, but at the risk of taking too much responsibility on your shoulders? When does your natural style help you and when not? How can you further strengthen your influence?
In principle, everyone is capable of learning and adopting any type of behavior, but we do have preferences. A behavioral preference, often referred to as an inclination or attitude, determines how we automatically do what we do. We may for example have an analytic attitude and automatically start to dig into details when we receive a report. Or we might have a synthetic attitude and start by skimming the paper to grasp the key points. This does not mean that the analytic person cannot quickly extract the essential when needed, or the synthetic person cannot perform a thorough analysis. It only means that using a less habitual behavior would usually require additional concentration and more focused attention, as well as costing more effort. A bit like driving towards a new address (without GPS) vs. driving home.
To continue with the car example, sometimes we might get home and not remember how we got there, or get home by default and realize that we had actually intended to drive elsewhere. Likewise, when we interact with other people, we may automatically go on automatic pilot and find ourselves in a totally unintended situation.
We also tend to go on automatic pilot when we face critical situations. When we need to react quickly to a threat, a danger, a challenge, an urgent matter, a provocation, or a crisis, we tend to adopt our most habitual behavior, which may or may not be the most effective or appropriate one at that moment.
Hence understanding our attitude towards critical situations like conflicts can be the first step to become more conscious about our behavioral choices and learn to adjust our behavior to increase effectiveness.
The CAP test – derived from the neuroscience based PRISM Brain Mapping Assessment – provides a quick way to get an initial assessment of our naturally preferred style. Unlike personality tests that tend to label people as “fixed” types, Attitude or Preference Assessments give us a more nuanced picture: they can help us become more aware of our instinctive inclinations, while learning about other possibilities that are available to us. Taking a CAP test is a great start to appreciate and begin to more consciously use your natural skills, while becoming aware of some watch-outs and getting some tips to increase influence.
If all this seems too theoretical, here below are some practical examples.
As you read through the examples, ask yourself these questions:
Do I recognize myself in one or more of these instinctive preferences?
Does my instinctive preference change in different situations?
When I automatically adopt my most natural behavior, am I aware of the pros and cons of my approach, and capable to correct course if needed?
Are you a great problem-solver who prefers to talk about facts and figures, rather than about people and relationships? Do you enjoy intellectually stimulating discussions, but get stressed if you do not have time to prepare in advance? Do you love to be appreciated for your expertise? You may have a strong “Gold – Monitoring” component in your Conflict Attitude Profile. This means that when you use your most natural Conflict Management Style, you are probably extremely influential in all those situations that require an objective and straightforward approach to simplify complexity; or when a cool head is required in order to overcome heavy criticism by third parties. However, when discussions become too emotional, you may automatically get into a condescending mode or all together disconnect.
Do you rather tend to put more attention to people and their motives than facts and data? Do you prefer to share visions, invite collaboration and stimulate sharing of feelings? The strong “Blue – Facilitating” component in your CAP probably makes you very effective in diffusing personal clashes and driving engagement, although you may struggle with holding others accountable and end up taking too much on yourself, at the risk of being overworked and feeling like a martyr.
Maybe you prefer action to data and love to be in control; then you probably have a strong “Red – Directing” component in your CAP, thus you are at your natural best when you encourage quick resolutions and keep the eyes on the goal. You always lead with courage and with contagious energy, so you resolve confrontations quickly, but not always by bringing everyone on board. You may get very bored by too many details, and ignore some key issues; you are probably an effective fire-fighter getting, but your tendency to override all concerns that may delay decisions may bring you to hurting other people’s feelings and alienate some team members’ support.
Do you like to challenge the status quo? Do you continuously look for alternatives and new possibilities? Then you are probably very effective in finding creative solutions to any problem and impactful in inspiring positive change. With a strong “Green – Inspiring” CAP component, your Conflict Management style is centered around breaking boundaries, trusting people, and looking at future opportunities with optimism; however, you might be prone to feeling personally rejected by the occasional imposition of too many or too rigid rules and get very irritated when confronted with judgment or no sense of humor.
Now that you have read all examples, chances are that you have recognized something of you in each one.
We mostly use a combination of styles and tend to behave differently in different instances.
But what is your unique combination? And what can you do to use all your skills in the most effective way all of the time?
Find out more by taking the CAP test at https://theclearmindset.com/cap/ and learn:
what are your natural conflict management skills, the ones that you can always count on for successfully tackling conflicts
what are your watch-out’s, or the weak spots that make you sometimes being less than your very best in conflicts or difficult conversations
useful tips to help you expand your ability to deal with conflicts without feeling anxious or uncomfortable, and to become more influential .