Conflict Styles Quiz

Conflict Styles

Each of us naturally handles conflict in a way that we’re comfortable. Our upbringing, personality, experiences, and relationships influence our conflict style. In order to change the climate of a group we need an awareness of how we typically handle conflict.

Here’s a quick assessment that will help you evaluate your conflict style.

Read the statement below and put the name of a peer in the blank. It could be your spouse, a coworker, or a friend, but it’s important to have a specific person in mind. After choosing a name, read the statements below and pick the statement that best describes how you handle conflict with that person.

When I have a disagreement with __________ I tend to…

  1. avoid confrontation and conflict as much as possible. I might avoid phone calls, change my plans to not be around this person or make excuses for why I can’t continue my normal routine if they are a part of it.
  2. accommodate the other person and allow them to get their way because I want them to be happy. I will even take on more work myself/make myself uncomfortable in order to make them happy.
  3. get the other person to see things my way. I help the other person understand that my view is the right and I often persist until they agree.
  4. compromise so that the other person will get some of what they want as long as I get some of what I want.

For most of my childhood and early adult life I feared conflict and felt successful if I avoided it. The thought of inconveniencing or offending anyone motivated me to keep people happy so I steered clear of conflict. It shouldn’t surprise you then that my predominant conflict style was avoidance, which is also your conflict style if you choose A. If you choose B then you’re an Accommodator. If you picked C then your style is Competitor and if you picked D then your style is Compromiser.

None of these ways of handling conflict are bad, but depending on your relationship with the person and the task at hand, there might be a most effective style to use. Knowing all the styles and assessing when to use a style is an important part of handling conflict effectively. It’s entirely probable that if you put a parent or boss’ name in the blank you might choose a different conflict style. The same will also probably be true if you put your child or an employee’s name in the blank. We naturally assess our relationship with the person and the importance of the task at hand when we handle conflict, but we can be even more effective when we have the right tools.

Check back over the next couple of weeks to read about your specific style and other conflict styles to continue filling your toolbox with skills to communicate and handle conflict effectively.

Community in Disunity

For a couple of summers in high school I couriered for my dad’s printing company. I often spent less than ten minutes during most drop offs or pick ups, but I usually left with a positive or negative feeling about the company solely based on those ten minutes. By the end of the summer I knew which places to linger for conversation and inside jokes and I knew which places to organize all the paperwork ahead of time so I could efficiently get in and out as soon as possible. Even a sixteen year old notices climate and culture.

As a teacher I’ve spent time in lots of different schools and the same holds in education as well. Just ten minutes in a school gives a pretty good indication of the climate. I’ve also experienced this at restaurants, churches, car repair shops, hair salons, and doctor’s offices. It’s incredible how quickly and accurately we can assess climate just by how we feel in the first ten minutes.

It’s also incredible how long it takes to favorably change the climate and culture of a community.

Most anyone will notice climate and culture, some people can negatively influence climate and culture, and very few people can positively change it.


I think it’s because in order to change the culture of a community we have to navigate conflict effectively.

And handling conflict is hard.

Handling conflict effectively is even harder.

I recently spoke with a teenage girl about drama within her friend group. Several girls sat together at the same lunch table, but many were miserable because they felt unwelcome and judged. The complicated history between the group involved boys, name calling, and social media mishaps. Most of it constantly simmered below the surface. The girls commonly made passive aggressive comments towards each other when they were together, but the victims mostly ignored and internalized the offenses in an effort to keep the peace. When I asked if she could bring up her feelings of feeling judged and unwelcome to the group, she vehemently refused saying, “Oh, no! I could never bring it up. That would only make it worse! I’d rather just live with it.”

I think this accurately sums up how many people feel about conflict. It’s sometimes easier to live with frustration and loneliness than navigate conflict. We’d rather allow hurt, frustration, and judgment to bubble just below the surface than deal with it or call attention to it. Admitting conflict can make us feel like we’ve failed and there’s also the very real fear we might lose a friend or lose face in front of others if we don’t handle it well.

For most of my childhood and early adult life I feared conflict and felt successful if I avoided it. A graduate school class turned into a way of communicating with people and resolving conflict with hope. I use these skills as a teacher, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a supervisor, a friend, a Bible study leader, and colleague. These tools won’t change your life in a month, but rather these skills will make you aware of how and why you interact the way you do. Like any other skill, the tools work well when we practice. Lucky for us, conflict is here to stay so there’s plenty of opportunity to practice.

In order to handle conflict more effectively we have to assess how we currently handle conflict.

Year in Review

I wrote this last year, but it continues to resonate with me today. I dug it out more as a reminder to myself that every year is sprinkled with success, failure, joy, disappointment, and a whole lot of “as you do” moments. 

Recently, while on a walk, some neighbors knocked on our door to compliment our Christmas lights. They didn’t have any intention of coming inside, but once our kids saw each other it turned into an impromptu play date for the kids and great conversation for the adults. It was one of those rare nights in our house where it seemed like we had it all together. Before our friends stopped by, we not only ate dinner as a family, but the dinner dishes were already washed and put away. (Is this only a miracle in our house?) The clutter that usually filled our living room was miraculously in its rightful spot. We even built and decorated a gingerbread house as a family. I didn’t have to shove laundry or toys off the couch to make a spot for them when they came inside. More than once during our conversation I thought to myself, wow, it looks like we have it all together! The house is clean, the gingerbread house is on display, and there’s even a candle lit that smells like Christmas.

As much as I wanted to pat myself on the back, I couldn’t because I knew the filth twenty feet away up the stairs. As much as I wanted to feel like we had it all together, and as much as it appeared that we had it all together, we didn’t. If our friends would have taken a quick trip up the stairs they would have seen laundry strewn and stacked everywhere in the master bedroom. They would have tripped over a trail of toys stretching from the top of the stairs to the playroom. It’s possible they would have gagged from the smell of the diaper genie that desperately needed emptying and they probably would have noticed our girls’ “artwork” on the bathroom countertop out of blue toothpaste. I’m embarrassed just thinking of the disparity between the two floors and, at the time, I couldn’t help but feel fake.

I think this story pretty much sums up my life and adequately expresses my thoughts on a Christmas letter from our family. I can write a letter that sets our best on display and I can pat myself of the back that we look like we have it all together, but I’ll feel a little fake only highlighting the great parts of our year. So, here’s our honest Christmas letter:

It’s been a wonderful year. Truly, one of my favorites. But, there’s also been bad news, failure, hurt, frustration, and darkness. We continue to figure out how this parenting and marriage thing work with sometimes hilarious results. Karl and I constantly struggle to balance work and family and we’ve failed more often than succeeded. We’ve attempted to eat healthier, stay on top of laundry, have a regular date night, meet our neighbors, inspire our students, and encourage our coworkers. We’ve had days of triumph interspersed with trying days. At the end of the year, I think we’ve grown a lot as a family through our failures and successes.

As I reflect on this year I’m not going to dwell too much on our failures, but I’m also not going to dwell too much on our successes. Both point me right back to God. When I fail, I reminded that I’m a sinner living in a sinful world and I will not see perfection this side of Heaven. I’m reminded how much I need God. When I succeed, I remember that it’s only by the grace of God that I have anything and Jesus’ success on the cross is the single most important success that will ever be tied to my name.

This year, instead of thinking too much about accomplishments or disappointments, I will dwell on how God continues to work in me and through me on good days and bad days. I will remember that my identity is found in Him alone and I will trust in His promises that seem counter-cultural to this world.

Honestly, it would have been fine if our friends had walked up the stairs that evening into the mess. They’re dear friends that are like family and they’ve seen our house and our family in a much worse state. We trust them to love us for who we are, mess and all. I’m thankful that God, too, sees our family for who we really are and loves us unreservedly.

Friends, Merry Christmas. Whether it’s been a banner year or a year you’d rather forget- Immanuel, God with us, knows and cares for you. May his peace and hope fill you and sustain you this Christmas season and if you drop by unannounced please know that there’s a 10% chance we have clear spot in the couch, but a 100% chance we’ll make a space for you to sit down.

As you do

“As you do” is a household phrase for my family. It sounds bizarre, but it’s diffused a host of contentious situations.

It started a while back after our family of six finished a marathon shopping trip though Sam’s after school. It was no easy feat. Four tired and hungry kids made it through a post school shopping trip with no major meltdowns and we only forgot one item. (Cause for celebration in my opinion.) I wanted to rejoice, but I was too tired and, by the time we piled into the van to head home, we hovered precariously close to chaos anyways.

After leaving the parking lot, the silence induced by exhaustion slipped into a hysteria where everyone competed to see who could cry the loudest. Even the DVD player failed to distract and appease.

These situations stress me out. I can’t stand being restrained by a seat belt while helplessly listening to my kids cry. As a mom, I feel like a failure if I can’t soothe and placate everyone into a manageable hum. Right about the time I wanted to wail the loudest my husband stopped at a stop sign in the far RIGHT lane and a blue truck turned right in front of us from the far LEFT lane. Before I could be irritated my husband quipped, “As you do.”

And I cracked. I laughed until tears fell from my face. I laughed until my kids’ tears stopped and then I laughed some more. I tried not to, but the absurdity was impossible. Just another standard day when a car cuts you off from the far left hand lane like it’s completely normal. You know, as you do.

And it’s become a thing for our family. Anytime something absurd pops up or we’re in the middle of an unexpected situation, you can typically hear “as you do” followed by a shoulder shrug and giggling.

Making a third trip to the grocery store in one day…as you do.

Cleaning a poop explosion out of your son’s hair with wet wipes in the middle of a Target parking lot…as you do.

Strapping your son into his car seat only to open the van door and realize his is there and he’s been strapped into someone else’s for the last twenty minutes while you rounded up all the other kids…as you do.

Walking into your youngest daughter’s room to find your husband cleaning poop off the wall…as you do. (Clearly, we have too many poop stories in our family)

Explaining to your seven year old that she does not need a phone even though she has friends who own one…as you do.

Comforting your five year old because she’s experienced death in a personal way…as you do.

I’ve come to see the importance in these everyday “as you do” moments. I can orchestrate Instagram worthy shots of my family that look impressive for a second that’s frozen in time, but how I react to the mundane craziness before and after the photo shape my family’s character and legacy in a way that outlasts pictures and posts.

The absurd and unexpected moments will not stop in this broken world, but how we handle them can set us apart. And that’s what this blog is all about. It’s a collection of thoughts about life, God, and those “as you do” moments when absurdity becomes our reality.