Conflict – we all experience it no matter how hard we try to avoid it.   You may be a peaceful, calm person normally but all it takes is someone to come into our office and throw a new project on your desk and let you know you have one-week to put together a presentation.  This may not bother some people but to make things more tense, you have to work with someone who’s work style is completely opposite of you.   If you are still not worried about it, congratulations, you know how to master conflict and I applaud you!

Now, for those of you who just the THOUGHT of this happening to you causes a great deal of stress, take a moment to breathe.  We have some tips for you to work through conflict more effectively and avoid those ineffective behaviors that seem to seep out when you are faced with it.

First, let’s go over the general responses of each style.

Dominance: First response in conflict is going to be demanding.  The goal of a D style is victory – they fear loss of control or being taken advantage of.  As conflict increases they go from assertive to demanding.  Some adverse behaviors that are reflected by a D style in conflict are:

  • Becoming aggressive and autocratic
  • Creating a win/lose outcome
  • Refusing to bend
  • Overpowering with force

influence: Focusing less on logic like the D styles tend to do, i’s want acknowledgement and when this is in jeopardy, they are about emotions.  The feelings may not come out in the most professional way and can vary from pouting, exaggerating, or personal attacking.  Adverse behaviors exhibited by i styles are:

  • Wanting to be heard
  • Glossing over tension initially
  • Verbalizing feelings impulsively
  • Personal attacking

Steadiness: While D’s goal is victory and i’s work towards acknowledgement, S’s want harmony and when is this in risk, they tend to become quiet.  Now this may look to others as they are complying or giving in but in reality, they are processing what is being said and the info is simmering.  Eventually the frustration and anxiety boils over.  Behaviors that are a response to conflict for S’s are:

  • Avoiding aggression
  • Trying to save relationships
  • Accommodating or giving in
  • Simmering beneath the surface

Conscientiousness: The C style tends to withdraw in conflict even though their goal is justice.  They fear they will make a mistake and become defensive with they may be wrong.  C’s never stop strategizing for how they think they are correct.  Opposite of a D style, they tend be autocratic first then aggressive.  Some key behaviors as a response to conflict that you will see are:

  • Becoming defensive
  • Strategizing in controlled fashion
  • Resisting passive-aggressively
  • Overpowering with logic and facts

So now that we now how each style tends to react to conflict how do we cope with our own style or help others in the face of conflict.  Each person must determine how to best handle their ineffective behaviors and learn a more positive approach.  Below you will find some suggestions on how you or someone you may know can better approach a conflict with other styles.


  • Approach the situation thinking about it from a different way
  • Do not “corner” them and make them feel uncomfortable
  • Find workable answers quickly but don’t allow them to push the pace


  • Effectively communicate through listening
  • Ask open ended questions that allow them to communicate
  • Collaborate


  • Ask more indirect questions to reduce sense of conflict
  • Establish a decision-making timeline for a thought out but efficient timeline
  • Let them voice what they are feeling sooner rather than later


  • Allow time to process other points of view
  • Use rationale for arguments and not feelings
  • Refrain from taking skepticism personally

These are just a few suggestions on how to address conflict with others.  Do you have a different approach that works well for you? Feel free to share it with us by sending us an email or commenting below.

For a more personalized approach to handle different styles, complete an Everything DiSC Workplace Assessment to learn how to create a more effective working environment!