Have you ever thought about how you handle conflict?

In our 40 hour mediation class, our students do a learning exercise to better understand their approaches to conflict. What surprises most of them is that they use a variety of ways, based on the situation or person they are dealing with.

Here is a fun way to think about your approaches to conflict resolution – taken from the animal kingdom.

TURTLE – THE AVOIDERConflict Styles - animals

A turtle tucks its head in its shell to avoid conflict … that way, it can hide and ignore the conflict all together. Some conflicts go away by themselves, so this tactic may work in those instances. But major conflicts will deepen when


A teddy bear just wants to give you a big hug. This approach means that the bear neglects his own self interests and allows the other person’s interest to take precedence. That way … there are no waves.


Sharks confront others and try to satisfy their own interests at the expense of the other person’s. They aren’t very cooperative and come across as very assertive.


Foxes are good communicators who are willing to find solutions that work for both sides – a middle ground.  They are cooperative and attempt to satisfy everyone’s needs.


The owl is looks at conflict as problems to be solved. They value relationships and look for ways to reduce conflict tension.  They are always in search of the path to resolution and are willing to make concessions.

Can you see a bit of yourself in more than one of these approaches? I’m guessing … you have more than one style. I know I do.


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