In two of our recent posts, I talked about discovering the gifts of your highest core value, as well as how to understand your conflict style in the context of the Core Values Index™. Today, I’d like to take this one step further (as promised!) and help you understand how to manage the core values of others (and yourself) and transform what could be negative conflict experiences into positive ones.
What happens when you and your partner are in conflict and you see them falling into their negative conflict style? First of all, don’t fret too much about that negative conflict style being a part of your relationship. It’s part of the dance that we all do to get our needs met. But there are healthy ways to answer that knee-jerk response and manage that dance in a better way.
How do we do that, practically speaking? For your partner (or you!), it may be that they need to talk to an expert to figure out what their dance is. Each of us develops our own personal strategy of dealing with things based on our unique circumstances. That strategy comes from deep down in each of us; it’s hidden, and we don’t often recognize what our own methods of coping are. Because let’s be honest, we aren’t always as self-aware as we’d like to think we are! It’s okay to ask for help unpacking that.
Consider, for instance, a woman Builder who grew up in a family that didn’t think it was appropriate for girls or women to intimidate. Because she wasn’t allowed to express herself in conflict through intimidation, it’s very likely that she found alternative ways of managing conflict. She might default to the negative side of her secondary or tertiary core value.
For me (Sabrina), as a Merchant, it was hard to see and accept the fact that when it came to conflict, I was manipulating.
When your partner slips into their negative conflict strategy — or you notice that you are — self-awareness can help. If you can begin to watch yourself and recognize when the conflict is coming, ask yourself, “Is this a time to call upon my secondary core value so that I won’t slip into the negative conflict style of my primary core value?”
My secondary core value is Innovator. The Innovator’s conflict strategy is interrogation, but I don’t interrogate (it’s very much not my style), so I know I can safely shift to my secondary (Innovator) core value and tap into the gift of wisdom to manage the conflict. I can ask myself, “Is this a time for wisdom? What would wisdom say, do, and think? How would wisdom act?” For me, this often looks like sitting back and listening more, asking genuinely curious questions (not guided ones, like I would do if I’m manipulating), and not allowing myself to react emotionally to get the outcome I want. It’s often difficult for me, but when I notice myself beginning to react emotionally, that’s my signal within myself to shift to my Innovator.
Once I’ve shifted to that secondary core value, I stay there as long as needed to get out of the conflict. Then — and only then! — can I get back into being my Merchant self, the caring presence of love and truth.
When I’m triggered into fight, flight, freeze, fawn (you might recognize this by a feeling of tension in your chest or jaw or a quickening of your heart rate), I take a break first. Then, after 20 minutes of doing something totally different, I ask myself, “Is this a time for tapping into a healthier conflict strategy?”
When it comes to your partner, here’s what you can do:
- Ask them to take a break,
- Tell them you’ll come back, and
- Ask them to tap into their non-triggered core value (secondary or tertiary).
In our relationship, this means that Sabrina (the Merchant) pivots from love/manipulation to wisdom, and Eric (the Innovator) pivots from wisdom/interrogation to love.
Unpacking the Core Values Index™
The best way to manage conflict in your relationship better is to understand your core values and the core values of those closest to you. With that information, you can begin to unpack your conflict styles and learn healthier ways of relating to the people you love.
Look for our new online course on Unpacking the Core Values Index™ (CVI™), coming in January 2023. It’s designed to help you learn and use those healthier conflict strategies, and we can’t wait for you to experience it. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!
Here at Core Values Counseling, Eric Walters is our go-to coach when it comes to the CVI™. He works with families, couples, and corporations to help them understand their core values and manage their conflict strategies in a healthy, productive way. Get in touch today to get started!