Multiple Factors That Can Affect How We Respond to Conflict

Multiple Factors That Can Affect How We Respond to Conflict

 We often second guess ourselves on how we react and respond to conflict. There are, however, many reasons we react the way we do, and we should not be so harsh on ourselves. Understanding these factors will help see ourselves from a different perspective.


Values are deeply held beliefs that guide and govern our behaviour. They are the result of our family guidance, our schooling, our life experiences that have shaped the way we instinctively respond to events.

Gender and when we were born are two factors that have a huge impact on us. Our parents often raise boys and girls differently to start with. Some of us were taught to use different conflict resolution modes depending on our gender.

Self-concept or how we think and feel about ourselves greatly affects how we approach conflict. This can change quite often depending on different stages of our life.

Perception of others orients our actions. It may not be based on facts, but it does influence our behaviour.

Expectations we have of others steer our initial actions. We easily take the wrong approach if we are wrong.

The situation or the context greatly influences our conflict mode. When is the conflict occurring, do we know the needs of the other party, is the conflict personal or professional, do we have aggressive goals?

What is our power status with the person we are in conflict with?

What have been our life experiences with conflict? What have learned through these experiences? What choices have we made as adults?

Knowledge about conflict and the training we have received greatly influence our actions and behaviour. Different schools and institutes often have different approaches that influence what we do.

Practice and experience have a huge impact on how we approach conflict. If one is trained by academics or lawyers or mediators, it is very likely that a different mode will be preferred and perhaps engrained.

Assumptions we make about the other party and the situation will influence our approach, at least initially.

Our energy level also plays a big role. Fatigue and stress may impact us more than we would think. Therefore, most practitioners recommend rest and relaxation before starting negotiations or mediations.

What other factors influence how you respond to conflict?

Take the time to reflect. It is a good investment of time.

Jean-Paul Gagnon, ACC, CHRP is a professional coach, certified as CINERGY Conflict Management Coach. He is also a trained practitioner in conflict resolution. He is a mediator in the workplace and a volunteer community mediator. He has over 35 years of experience in Human Resource Management.                    

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