The model underlying the Conflict Dynamics Profile instrument suggests that people use a variety of behavioral responses to conflict. Some of these are characterized as constructive and some as destructive. The constructive behaviors are ones that tend to help lessen tension and resolve conflict. They are further divided by whether they are active or passive in nature. Active constructive behaviors involve overt responses. These include four behaviors: Perspective Taking, Creating Solutions, Expressing Emotions, and Reaching Out.
Perspective Taking concerns trying to view the conflict from the other person’s perspective, sometimes referred to as standing in their shoes. This can be helpful by drawing down tension and helping you learn more about how and why someone sees something different from you.
Creating Solutions involves brainstorming with the other person to come up with possible solutions to a problem. When used effectively it helps change a conflict from an adversarial struggle to a collaborative problem solving exercise.
Expressing Emotions includes sharing your thoughts and feelings about the conflict with the other person. This can be challenging for people because they may feel vulnerable about expressing their feelings and because many organizational cultures don’t support such sharing. It is important though because repressed feelings often fester and eventually come out in destructive manners.
Reaching Out deals with working to start or keep communications going during conflicts. When we ask people whether they talk more or less with those with whom they are having conflict, the usual answer is less. When people talk less, conflict usually goes unresolved. So Reaching Out can be a very helpful behavior to use.
We emphasize working with clients on improving their active constructive behaviors because our research has shown that these responses are closely associated with being seen as an effective leader. In order to help you work with your clients, we offer CDP Certified Practitioners a complementary electronic copy of our CDP Trainers Toolkit which contains exercises for practicing and refining the CDP active constructive behaviors. To receive your copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.