Being part of a committee is never an easy thing. Even the mention of joining a committee has people studying their shoes, frantically searching for an excuse, sorry reason, why they can’t join. Committees often mean conflict, because a good committee has lots of people who are passionate about what they’re doing, have their own ideas and want to get involved. Great when you all agree, not so good when there’s a difference of opinion.
I don’t do well with conflict, so I was delighted that we had Milee Brambleby from Commonsense Services speak at our last Swallowtail WI meeting. Milee is an expert in conflict resolution and she helped us to identify our own style of conflict resolution with the use of animal cartoon characters, based on the work of Thomas and Kilman.
It turns out I’m an Accommodating Teddy Bear, I like to help everyone and I’m happy to put other people first. If you want something done, ask an Accommodating Teddy Bear, they’re likely to say yes. The problems come when we start to feel resentful and put upon, we have a tendency to snap and turn into Competing Sharks, determined to get what we want, no matter what.
Milee helped us see that conflict isn’t a bad thing, it’s a necessary part of life. Instead of shying away from conflict we should embrace the different techniques: become a Compromising Fox to negotiate deals, accepting you have to give and take, this is perfect when dealing with children. You can hide in your shell as an Avoiding Turtle when the argument isn’t worth the battle and a Collaborative Owl works to find a solution where everyone wins. There’s even a place for Accommodating Teddy Bears, we side step conflict and enjoy helping people, but at times it’s necessary for a Competing Shark to cut straight to the point, like when you’re making a complaint in a shop or restaurant.
There’s an appropriate time and place for each conflict style and I’ll be bringing out my Collaborative Owl and Compromising Fox at my next committee meeting.
Written by Claire Wade, Swallowtail WI President
Get the inside scoop on the life of a WI member.