You may have heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, represented by conquest, war, famine and death. Well you could very well be one of these horsemen according to psychology experts.
Further to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the idea of the 'Four Horsemen of conflict' was developed by psychological researcher Dr John Gottman in 1994. While Gottman's research focused on marriage conflict, the idea of the horsemen can be translated to any kind of conflict, including situations which arise in the workplace.
So what are the four types of conflict and how can we manage these.
Gottman identified four types of conflict; criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling
Each of these are explained further below.
A criticism attaches a person. In the workplace criticism is often characterised by a person who inadvertently hurts the feelings of another person by using an off-handed comment or even a poorly worded email, for example 'You're a bad communicator because you don't keep me updated on projects'.
Tips for managing criticism:
Often the most challenging of the four types of conflict, if identified early, contempt needs immediate attention.
Contempt can build on from criticism and is characterised where an employee is disrespectful, ridiculing or talks down to their co-workers.
Contempt can also be displayed in more subtle ways, including sarcasm and workplace gossip.
Tips for managing contempt:
Defensiveness is a natural response and is part of the brain's fight or flight response.
When a person becomes defensive they are unlikely to take on feedback but rather start building a case to defend themselves.
Tips for managing defensiveness:
The final of the four conflict types is stonewalling. Stonewalling is the opposite to defensiveness and is the flight side of the 'fight' or 'flight'.
Stonewalling is where a person becomes withdrawn from the relationship, and often results in that person not including certain people into conversation. This type of behaviour can be damaging and can often result in bullying and harassment complaints.
Conflict avoidant people are most prone to stonewalling.
Tips for managing stonewalling behaviour:
For further information contact E&IR Consulting - https://eandirconsulting.com.au/.
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