Thursday, May 31, 2012

Turtle vs. Owl

During our second week of MTI (Mission Training International), we spent time discussing our different conflict management styles. As we all know, conflict in life in inevitable! When we move to Austria, we know we will encounter conflict in relationships, in our marriage, on our WorldVenture team, and with others that we work with and encounter. And when that happens (not if), it is helpful to understand how we naturally approach conflict, how others do and how we can grow. 

Each of the conflict styles is represented by an animal, as seen in the photo.
  • A shark is competitive in conflicts, very intent on achieving their desired outcome and sometimes sacrificing harmony in the relationship in order to do so. 
  • A teddy bear is an accomodator who places the relationship above their own agenda in the conflict. Because they favor relational harmony (and tend to be "people pleasers"), they will set their own opinions aside to resolve the conflict. 
  • The fox is the compromisor, persuading each party to give up part of their goals so that a mutually agreeable solution can be reached. They work for the common good and see compromise as a "win-win".
  • The turtle tends to withdraw or avoid conflict by staying away from situations where it could arise or giving up their personal goals and relationships to avoid it. They believe it's easier to withdraw from conflict than to confront it.
  • Finally, the owl is the collaborator who highly values both relationships and their own goals. They enjoy solving problems and in conflict, will invest a lot of time in to finding a solution that achieves both their goals and others'.
Can you guess which animals Nate and I most identified with? Nate realized that he is an owl most of the time. He cares a lot about relationships, but also loves solving problems. The collaboration process is very enjoyable for him, so he doesn't mind if it takes a long time to come to a mutually-agreeable solution. On the other hand, Bethany tends to be a turtle. She shies away from conflict, unless it's something that can be worked out calmly or if it's with someone with whom she's very comfortable.

As we head to the mission field and prepare to work in teams, we recognize the importance of understanding ours and others' conflict styles. We also discussed the importance of growing beyond our "natural style" and how the ability to operate in other styles shows our maturity as we grow.

What style do you gravitate towards?