Turtles & Sharks & Teddy Bears - Oh My!

From this Staff Matters article:

CEO Online has an interesting focus on managing conflict from the perspective of management. They claim that:

It's all a matter of whether you work with turtles, sharks, teddy bears, foxes or owls! Why is it important to be able to identify the different personality styles in your workplace, or for that matter, your own? Identifying the turtles, sharks, teddy bears, foxes or owls in your business puts you in a better position to make positive use of individual personalities and turn workplace conflict around.

They argue that recognising workplace styles and responses to conflict can help in utilising strengths of individuals. Here are their descriptors:

The turtle - avoids
When a person recognises that a conflict exists but reacts by withdrawing or suppressing the conflict.

-Turtles withdraw into their shells to avoid conflicts.
-They give up their personal goals and relationships.
-They stray away from the issues over which the conflict is taking place and from the people with whom they are in conflict.
-They believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflicts.
-They feel helpless. They believe it is easier to withdraw physically and psychologically from a conflict than to face it.

This type of behaviour is appropriate when:
-an issue is trivial, or more important issues are pressing,
-one perceives there is no chance of satisfying their concerns,
-potential disruption outweighs the benefits of resolution,
-others can resolve the conflict more effectively,
-issues seem symptomatic of other issues.

The shark - competes
When a person seeks to achieve his/her goals or further his/her interests, regardless of the impact on the other party.

-Sharks try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to the conflict.
-Their goals are highly important to them and the relationship of minor importance. They seek to achieve their goals at all costs, they are not concerned with the needs of other persons and they don't care if other persons like or accept them.
-Sharks assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and one person losing. They want to be the winner. Winning gives sharks a sense of pride and achievement. Losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy and failure. They try to win by attacking, overpowering, overwhelming and intimidating others.

This type of behaviour is appropriate when:
-quick, decisive action is vital,
-there are important issues where unpopular actions need implementing,
-there are issues vital to the organisation's welfare, and when the person knows that he/she is right,
the person is up against a person/people who take advantage of non-competitive behaviour.

The teddy bear - accommodates
When the parties seek to appease their opponent by placing their opponent's interest ahead of their own.

-Teddy bears feel the relationship is of great importance while their own goals are of little importance.
-They want to be accepted and liked by other people.
-They think that conflict should be avoided in favour of harmony and believe that conflicts cannot be discussed without damaging relationships.
-They are afraid that if the conflict continues someone will get hurt and that would ruin the relationship.
-They will give up their goals to preserve the relationship.

This type of behaviour is appropriate when:
-issues are more important to others than yourself, to satisfy others and maintain cooperation,
-there is a need to build social credits for later issues,
-there is a need to minimise loss when you are outmatched and losing,
-harmony and stability are especially important,
there is a need to allow subordinates to develop by learning from their mistakes.

The fox - compromises
When each party gives up something in order to reach a compromised outcome.

-Foxes seek a compromise. They are willing to sacrifice part of their goals and relationships in order to find agreement for the common good.
-To do this they need to persuade the other person in a conflict to give up part of their goals.
-They seek a solution to conflicts where both sides gain something, the middle ground between two extreme positions.

This type of behaviour is appropriate when:
-goals are important, but not worth the effort or potential disruption of more assertive modes,
-opponents with equal power are committed to mutually exclusive objectives or issues,
-there is a need to achieve temporary settlements to complex issues,
-there is a need to arrive at expedient solutions under time pressure,
-it can be used as a back-up when collaboration or competition is unsuccessful.

The Owl - cooperates
When each of the parties in conflict searches for a mutually satisfying outcome.

-Owls highly value their own goals and relationships.
-They view conflicts as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their own goals and the goals of the other person in conflict.
-They see conflicts as improving relationships by reducing tension between two people. They try to begin a discussion that identifies the conflict as a problem.
-They maintain the relationship by seeking solutions that satisfy both themselves and the other person.
-They are not satisfied until a solution is found that achieves their own goals and the other person's goals and are not satisfied until the tensions and negative feelings have been resolved.

This type of behaviour is appropriate when:
-there is a need to find an integrative solution when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised,
-the objective is to learn,
-there is a need to merge insights from people with different perspectives,
-there is a need to gain commitment by incorporating concerns into a consensus,
-there is a need to work through feelings that have interfered with a relationship.