Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

SDI Assessment

Managing Your Conflict Triggers

Dear Crucial Skills,

I recently took the SDI assessment and I need help applying the insights I’ve gained. I think I now better understand why one of my coworkers annoys me. She is very timid and soft-spoken, and I tend to lose my patience when working with her. I try to mask my frustration, but I don’t really know whether I do so successfully. How can I actually OVERCOME my frustration? I get the sense she can tell I’m frustrated, which just makes her more reserved, which just frustrates me further, etc. She also took the assessment, and her profile suggests she is triggered by anything that resembles aggression. Any suggestions?

At Odds

Dear At Odds,

Thanks for your question. My first observation is that there appears to be a recurring, or pattern, issue that is affecting an important relationship. And since we don’t have the Content regarding this issue, we’ll focus on the P and R from the CPR of Content, Pattern, and Relationship.

I appreciate that you are asking questions about what you can do to make things better. It shows that you are taking personal accountability for your situation.

The simplest suggestion I can make is to use the Compare function on the Core Strengths Platform—comparing everything about your SDI results with your coworker’s. I suggest that you explore that fully, as the system will give you a lot of tips about how to manage your perceptions, conflict triggers, and communication.

To explore your questions further in this format, without knowing your SDI results, I need to make a few assumptions. You mention that your coworker is timid and soft-spoken, and easily triggered by aggression. These things are frequently true of people with a Blue-Green (Cautious-Supporting) Motivational Value System. And if she gets more reserved when triggered, that sounds like Green (Analyzing) in conflict. You also mention that you lose your patience when you are frustrated, and imply that you might appear aggressive, which is often true for people when they reach their Red (Assertive) stage of conflict.

I suggest that you apply your Crucial Conversations skills, starting with heart, and explain why you would like to find a way to break the pattern together. Take ownership of the fact that you get triggered when she doesn’t speak up, and commit to giving her a little more time to do so. If your coworker does have a Blue-Green MVS, she will likely want to make sure that whatever she says is carefully considered. And my guess is that she could be almost ready to speak up when you lose your patience. So, patience is the virtue for you to practice. When you feel frustrated, you can try your patience by asking questions instead. For example: “What do you think about this idea?” or “Could I have your opinion?” or “What do you see as the pros and cons of this alternative?” Asking questions clearly signals that you want to hear her voice. The suggestions in this paragraph are all about preventing conflict—before somebody starts to feel threatened, or to take things personally.

If you do find yourself in conflict, especially where one of you is asserting from a Red conflict motive, and the other is analyzing from a Green conflict motive, one the most effective strategies is to agree on a time to talk, or a time to make a decision. When people are in Green conflict, they often want a bit of time to clarify their own thoughts, and when people are in Red conflict they want to know that something will get done. So, agreeing on a time to talk (or decide) mediates both concerns.

Here are two more ideas that are not specific to SDI personality types: one about masking your frustration, the other about overcoming your frustration.

When you intentionally try to mask your frustration, you are not being honest in the relationship. There’s nothing wrong with being frustrated and then talking about it safely. But masking your frustration may be contributing to the unproductive pattern you are concerned about. When you mask your frustration, you are withholding your meaning, perhaps in a well-intentioned effort to prevent conflict. But all this really does is defer the conflict until later and give it a chance to grow while people tell themselves stories about each other.

As for overcoming your frustration. It appears that you are frustrated when your coworker either acts differently from your expectations, or differently from how you would act in the same situation. You should consider whether your expectations of her behavior are realistic, and whether you are willing to accept her as the person she is. Letting go of unrealistic expectations is the essence of forgiveness. And forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.


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1 thought

  1. dijan mallcontent

    This all sounds really nice. BUT it is NOT the real problem. The real problem is this guy superiority complex. How dare the person asking the question assume that he is right to be frustrated he is not. He is likely an extravert how speaks long before thinking trying to interact with an introvert who thinks long and hard before speaking. There are several other dynamics infered by the tone of the question. Is he the boss? or the manager? Someone who holds her future in his hands? How dare he lord that over her – where I come from that stuff is illegal. He is in a position of power, she is not that is an imbalance. He is intimidating. I got that just from the tone of the question!
    Hear me and hear me well – IT IS NOT HER FAULT! She has done nothing to warrant this behavoir HE must be the one to change and perferably to a differnt company or perhaps country or universe. this kind of condensing garbage makes me sick. the very last thing we need is for him (the boss) to lord evven more presumptive information over her. He needs to leave her alone! and her company owes her a BIG FAT JUICY raise for putting up with the likes of him I’m sure his company is completely filled with likely minded people all the awy to the top. time to topple the top!

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