From the boardroom to the bedroom, assertiveness as a mode of approaching all conflict situations, is valued above all other choices in America.
But, what is lauded in a competitive business landscape, driven by media, and advertised to a distracted public by marketers, does not represent lived reality. Reality is messy, unmeasurable down to the final metric, and unknowable all the way up to the point that we are allowed to enter someone else’s headspace.
And even then, we don’t really know anything. We just can measure outcomes.
But if assertiveness is promoted as the “be all and end all” of all possible conflict approaches; and, collaboration is confused with weakness; accommodation is seen as charitable and kind (but not effective); avoidance is paired with fear of conflict itself; and, compromising is too often framed as losing, what is the average person to do?
Well, the fact is that, many people—from the boardroom to the bedroom—rotate through all four styles depending upon the situation, or context, in which they find themselves and the goals they are pursuing within that context.
And while assertiveness may be fine when negotiating a conflict solution across the table from a manager or supervisor, it may not be as appropriate a style to adopt when negotiating a candy exchange with a five-year-old.
But with the pressures and stresses of life compounding, rather than reducing, and with conflicts over resources growing exponentially over time, the value of being able to make healthy, conscious decisions to switch from one style to another—and to let the others around you know that this is happening—is the ultimate goal.
Because in a world where the technologists are here and building a world where human agency will be reduced to a mere shadow of its former glory, in pursuit of brave, new outcomes, the human touch to approaching conflict wisely is the only result that will matter.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org