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How Your Conflict Resolution Style Can Help You Cope with Change

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Enneagram teacher Russ Hudson speaks of a trap that we can fall into: when we set up our lives just the way we like them and everything is flowing along smoothly, we can think we have it made. But whenever we depend on external circumstances for our happiness and stability, we are building on shaky ground, because changes are inevitable. In the long run, the cultivation of inner resources and resilience creates a far more solid foundation.  

We can look at our Enneagram type as a strategy for dealing with life’s ups and downs. Our ego seeks a particular form of familiarity in life, but it also provides hidden strengths that we can bring forward when the going gets rough. It can teach us how to deal with change, and point us to times when change is beneficial or even necessary. One aspect of the Enneagram is particularly useful for understanding and coping with various aspects of change: our conflict resolution strategy, or Harmonic group. Understanding which approach we use can help us draw on our strengths in facing change, and apply new approaches we may not typically use.

The Emotional Realness Triad (Enneagram types 4, 6, and 8) brings emotions to the forefront in times of change. These types naturally use the strategy of digging up truths about where they and others stand and what problems they’re dealing with. Seeking to get to the bottom of things, they may be the first to recognize when a change is needed, and to deal with the messy emotional realities that it involves. Emotional realness types can draw on the strategies of the other two triads to strategize and contextualize changes.  

The Competency Triad (Enneagram types 1, 3, and 5) brings the gift of problem solving. When something changes, these types easily brainstorm ways of coping, bringing in logic and reason. They have the ability to remain impartial and strategic. What’s the best way to handle the changes that arise? Drawing on the strengths of the other triads can help them cut through the brainstorming to identify strategies that are also emotionally resonant and move them toward their best outcome.

The Positive Outlook Triad (Enneagram types 2, 7, and 9) brings in the big picture. Less daunted by change than the other styles, these types have the ability to take a bird’s-eye view of its implications and imagine the positive consequences that can result. What can this change bring me? Why does it matter? Their contextualizing ability often enables them to maintain positivity even when the immediate situation is less than ideal. Bringing in the other two styles can ground their optimism in wise action.   

Recognizing our default way of tackling change is useful for expanding it. When we access the strengths of all three styles, we deal more effectively with the changes life springs on us, and are able to initiate positive changes and solutions for ourselves. One thing’s for sure: change happens. No life can stay static. We can learn to draw on our inner as well as outer resources to handle change constructively.

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