Know Your Conflict Style

Team in Conflict

The business landscape is changing. And the way we engage in conflict must also change.

Competitors are emerging from the most unexpected sources and moving faster than ever. Who would have known that Amazon would compete in the food industry or has the potential to disrupt the transportation industry?

If individuals, teams and organizations aren’t able to make decisions quickly and move forward creatively, they will be left behind. At the core of great decision making and innovative thinking is productive conflict.

At 5.12 Solutions, we know from working with leaders in our executive coaching and leadership development programs that there is a direct link between conflict avoidance and poor business performance. People who are not able to engage in consequential discussions are putting their teams and organizations at risk to competitors who know how to engage productively.

There will be winners, and there will be losers.

Now, imagine what becomes possible with colleagues who are able to interact without fear of repercussion and who give each other the benefit of the doubt. They don’t get bogged down in drama, over analysis and political turf wars. Instead, they make decisions more quickly and pivot when needed.

Individuals on their teams see conflict as productive – not destructive. They have made the shift from…

  • A one size fits all approach to a more multi-dimensional stye that adapts to what others need.
  • Triangulation that results in drama and hyperbole to conversations that are direct and respectful.
  • A lack of strategic focus in communication to purpose driven interactions.

Your Style in Conflict

The first step to improving conflict in your organization is to look at the person in the mirror and make changes at the individual level. In other words, you have to know yourself first and the impact you have on others if you want to experience healthier and more productive interactions.


On teams that engage productively in conflict, team members have a strong sense of self awareness. In other words, they understand how their conflict styles impact others and why they respond to other conflict styles the way they do.

That’s where Everything DiSC® comes into play. Using DiSC, we can understand the four basic conflict styles and then make adjustments to our response when things get tense.

Take a look at the styles below and identify which describes you best.

Dominance – People with the Dominance style are typically active, fast paced and assertive. They tend to be objective and results oriented. They are motivated by change, making fast decisions and taking control of their environment. When their strengths are overused they can be seen as impatient and aggressive.

Influence – People with the Influence style are also fast paced and assertive, but tend to be more people-oriented. You may notice outgoing, sociable and even charming behavior as they control their environment by influencing others. When their enthusiasm is overused they can be seen as disorganized and overly optimistic.

Steadiness – People with the Steadiness style are more moderately paced. They tend to be empathetic team players who are patient, loyal and good listeners. When their accepting and agreeable behaviors are overused, they have a tendency to put their own needs last.

Conscientiousness – People with the Conscientiousness style are also moderately paced, and analytical and objective. They value accuracy, doing things the right way and a logical approach to work and life. When their step-by-step orientation is overused, it’s not uncommon for them to get stuck in analysis paralysis.

Of course we are a mix of all four DiSC styles, but we tend to rely on one or two of the DiSC styles more heavily than others.


Once you have clarity of your DiSC style, you can then begin to understand your natural tendencies in conflict. After all, conflict is inevitable. How you respond to it is your choice.

How the Dominance style responds in conflict: The Dominance style tends to be straightforward with opinions, acknowledges tough issues and has a willingness to debate. Their tendencies can become destructive when they create win-lose situations or overpower others.

How the Influence style responds in conflict: People with the Influence style tend to communicate with empathy, encourage open dialogue and provide reassurance. When their strengths are overused, they can become overly emotional and impulsive.

How the Steadiness style responds in conflict: People with the Steadiness style tend to show flexibility in conflict and an awareness of how others are feeling. They use their natural listening skills to communicate tactfully and to find compromise. Their destructive tendencies come out when they withdraw, give in to please others or let issues simmer under the surface.

How to Conscientiousness style responds in conflict: People with the Conscientiousness style like to find the root cause of an issue and focus on the facts. They tend to give people space in conflict. Their destructive style emerges when they get defensive, use passive-aggressive tactics or become overly critical.


Here are a few tips on how to reframe your conflict approach so that you can have a more productive response when things get chaotic.

  1. Create some space by seeking clarification, paraphrasing what you heard or simply saying “Tell me more…”
  2. Test the truth. Your thoughts are not you and the narrative playing in your head may not be the reality of the situation. Instead of making assumptions about what others are saying or how they are reacting, ask yourself, “Is what I believe about this situation actually true?”
  3. Choose a new (and productive) response to keep the conversation moving forward.

Get Your Productive Conflict Resources Here

The intent of our Productive Conflict Series is to help you make the second half of this year better than the first. If you haven’t done so already, check out these two resources below to help you and your team et started.

Conflict Toolkit: Download our in-depth, 11-page Productive Conflict Toolkit to reflect on questions that help you explore and identify your own conflict style and how that impacts your teams and organization.

Productive Conflict Masterclass: Save the date, July 20th at 11:30 am mountain time (MT), for our complimentary, virtual masterclass conducted live via Zoom. Direct from our executive coaching team, this 60 minute masterclass offers actionable tools to enable you and your team to see elements of conflict that you may not see right now and to assess its impact on team dynamics.

To get your Productive Conflict Toolkit and learn more about the Productive Conflict Masterclass, complete the information below.