The Most Common Conflict Trigger for People and How to Relate

The Most Common Conflict Trigger for People and How to Relate

What is the most common conflict trigger for people?  I don’t have scientific research to prove what I am about to say, but after training groups for ten years, I can tell you what pops up most frequently.  The issue that triggers conflict for most people is being FORCEFUL.  When it is overdone it becomes DOMINEERING.  In this blog we will explore why this triggers conflict, and we will consider strategies for conflict management with those who use the strength of FORCEFUL.

For many people, being forceful is inconsiderate, rude, arrogant, and the source of a myriad of problems.  Why do people use the strength of FORCFUL and how can being FORCEFUL be considered a strength?  Corestrengths defines forceful in the following way, “     When you’re pursuing a goal you apply maximum force to break through barriers and make things happen.”

FORCEFUL is a RED strength (a natural strength for those who are Performance oriented).  Those who are RED, desire results and pursue them with all their energy.  It is a tool to get things done.  We often turn to people with this strength to move things forward or to overcome obstacles.  What drives this strength for RED people is the desire to accomplish a goal.

Before we go any further, we should recognize that RED’s are not the only MVS (Motivational Value System) that uses FORCEFUL in relationships.  However, other MVS’s use the strength FORCEFUL for different reasons.  A BLUE person may become FORCEFUL to defend someone who is being hurt by someone else.  A GREEN person may use FORCEFUL to champion a preferred process over other options.  A HUB may use FORCEFUL when they perceive the community is acting out of balance or being extreme to move people more to the middle.  FORCEFUL is not limited to RED’s and is a strength we all use, but we use it for different reasons.  When people see us being FORCEFUL, it can trigger conflict in others.

Why does the strength forceful create so much angst and conflict?  Because FORCEFUL is easily seen as domineering.  The overdone strength of FORCEFUL is DOMINEERING.  Here is the description of DOMINEERING by Corestrengths, “You can push your objectives with such power that other people see you as domineering, dictatorial, or as a bully who can only win when others lose. You may also be viewed as the proverbial bull in a china shop, charging through without regard for others.”  It is easy to allow your emotional energy to push your strength of being FORCEFUL into a DOMINEERING behavior.  If you find yourself acting in this way, you need to dial it back.  Remember that weaknesses are rooted in strengths.  Turning up the volume on FORCEFUL probably won’t lead to the results you are looking for from others.

If you are experiencing someone as domineering, recognize that the intent of that behavior may simply be a person being FORCEFUL.  Ask yourself what the motivation is behind the overdone behavior.  Is it about Performance, People, Process or Perspective?  What is going on beneath the surface?  Attempt to understand the person at a deeper level.  If you can identify what is most important to the person and address that, you may lower the temperature in the room and the person my dial back what you are experiencing as domineering.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say a person in your family insists that you attend a party that you and other don’t want to attend.  They forcefully express their desire for all of you to change your schedule to go, even though none of you want to go and you would have to cancel other engagements.  When your family pushes back, they up the energy and demand that everyone go.  These kinds of interactions happen often in our lives at home and at work.  What is happening beneath?  The person may fear that if the family doesn’t go together, someone will be greatly offended, and it may threaten the relationship they cherish.  In this case the reason is BLUE (care for people).  To lower the temptation in the room you may want to recognize what is driving the overdone strength by saying something like this, “I can see you are passionate about how our attendance may impact our relationship with so in so.  We value the relationship as well.  Is there a way we can express our care for them while not changing our pre-arranged schedules?”  When we connect with someone’s heart (what is most important to them), we have a greater opportunity of maintaining relationship.

Another issue is that it is possible that we are not interpreting the behavior the way it was intended.  For some people, all forceful words and behavior feel like domineering.  Our perspective is impacted by our own MVS and our soul wounds.  If we have been hurt by a domineering person, we might see any forceful behavior as domineering.  We react in a protective manner and assume the worst of others.

Ultimately, none of us wants to be controlled by another person.  It is demeaning when someone does not respect our viewpoint or perspective.  When we are forceful, we need to be keenly aware that it can be interpreted as being domineering.  This is true for all MVS’s but especially for those who have strong RED.

We can have healthier relationships when we understand what is behind forceful behavior and believing the best of others.  Learning to communicate in a way that we acknowledge what is most important to the person (what is beneath), will go a long way in lowering the temperature in the room.  Most people are not trying to dominate you but desire a better outcome for a legitimate reason.

I would be remise if I didn’t mention that some people have developed habits of overdoing FORCEFUL and their domineering behavior has become highly destructive to others.  These situations require intervention rather than adjusting one’s perspective or simply believing the best.  On the other hand, we may need to self-examine ourselves and why we are so reactive to someone using the strength of forceful.  We may have wounds in our past that impact how we experience the strengths of others.

What drives the use of overdone strengths is our soul needs.  The three passions of the soul are Acceptance, Significance, and Security.  God created us with these needs that only God can meet.  When we try to meet these needs through our own means, we tend to get desperate and develop overdone behaviors.  We develop a demanding spirit.  When we become domineering the solution is ultimately to understand the Gospel truths that address these needs in Christ.  Domineering behavior may relate to our failure to trust God for our on acceptance, significance, or security.  If I have to succeed and I must have other’s cooperation to feel significant as a person, I may very well become domineering.  Explore what his happening in your soul to address the deeper issues driving our destructive behavior.  If you are discipling someone with domineering behavior, you will want to explore the soul needs driving it.

For those who cannot see Forceful as a strength and only see the strength in a negative way, I would challenge you to read the Bible as it is full of examples of the strength Forceful.  Read the Prophets and Paul’s writings.  I just finished reading Acts 27 where Paul is forceful in telling people not to leave the ship or they will be lost.  He had been told by God that no one will be lost if they stay together on the ship.  He used the strength of FORCEFUL to save the lives of everyone on board.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.