Assume good intent. That statement has been a game changer for me lately. Tension-reaction behavior is not uncommon in our workplace due to the nature of our team work, deadlines, and competing priorities. While I now am more aware of and appreciate the fact that the teams I work on have a mix of Controllers, Persuaders, Analyzers, and Stabilizers, I have definitely let the behavior of others get to me in the past and taken things personally during stressful situations.
Last month’s Behavior Styles (Part 2) session emphasized how people with different Styles have different tension-reaction behavior and how someone’s preferred Style can change during tense situations. I had never really given this much thought before and instead tended to jump to the conclusion that sometimes people were being difficult purely just to be difficult and that we were all possibly letting our egos get in the way. Sadly, I often assumed that others did not have good intentions. I did not take the time to think about preferred Behavior Styles and how those presented themselves during tense situations. I most certainly did not think about how my preferred Style was affecting others in those situations or how I could flex my preferred Style to meet the needs of the Styles I was working with.
As a Stabilizer-Analyzer, the first thing I tend to do in tense situations is I withdraw and check out. Conflict stresses me out and I prefer to avoid it if at all possible. Eventually, in order to keep avoiding conflict, I acquiesce and give in, even if I don’t agree with the decision that was made. While this gives the appearance that I am okay with everything on the outside, I actually often internalize what happened and stew over it for quite awhile. This sometimes leads me in remembering the situation worse than it actually was which then leads to more resentment. I’m sure it also leads to frustration from Controllers or Persuaders that I work with who want action rather than withdrawal and who want me to be willing to disagree and share my actual thoughts more often.
Over the last month I’ve really focused on pausing during tense situations and reminding myself that in general, most people are doing their best and do not have ill intent. The things they say aren’t necessarily personal jabs that are meant to be offensive. They aren’t being lazy by acting or not acting a certain way. It’s just that we all handle stress differently. As we learned in the class, our differences in Styles become even more apparent during tense situations. Rather than take things personally (internally) and withdrawing, I have focused on being more flexible and working on Bridge Styles based on the situation. Reminding myself to assume positive intent in others has really helped me give more people the benefit of the doubt which in turn has helped me focus on being more flexible to meet the Style needs of others, helping to reduce tension-reaction behaviors rather than contribute to them.