4. The Bolter
The fourth approach to conflict is the strategy of avoidance. The Bolter takes the flight approach to danger and conflict. They just run (or hide).
The Bolter gets a bad rap in our society. It’s seen as a weakness. And sometimes it is. Fear is not helpful for conflict resolution. It is what makes us punch and kick, steal and settle. The Bolter is the poster child for the fear of conflict. It often is not helpful to hide from conflict since hiding from conflict is a bit like holding a beach ball underwater – it’ll pop up soon and the longer you force it down, the bigger the inevitable splash.
On the other hand, there are instances when The Bolter is the best strategy. Sometimes we need to step away from conflict until we are in a place where it can be resolved in a healthy manner. This is often the case when emotions are high; we might make the conflict worse by acting out of our emotions rather than with intention to resolve. The Bolter has its place in these kinds of situations.
5. The Blender
The last approach is one of collaboration. The Blender takes the ingredients from both sides and mixes them together to form a win-win resolution. This can be a great approach if it is possible because it creates a new solution that does not require either side to sacrifice their initial positioning. Instead of meeting in the middle, the blender finds a way to meet at the point of a triangle, collaborating a solution that takes both sides into account.
The Blender can sometimes have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes collaboration just is not possible and sometimes, even if it is possible, it is not the best solution. At its worst, The Blender can be a mixture of avoidance and accommodation.
This rainbow of conflict-resolution styles shows us who we are and what is possible. We have to look at each of our tendencies and the individual circumstances of the conflict to decide which approach is best. Not all of these will work in every situation. But one of them will.
The big secret to resolving conflict is to aim for resolution. We aim so often for validation. If we know ourselves and our community a little better (including which approach is their factory-setting), we will be in a better place to grow and strengthen our relationships through a proper engagement with conflict.