Turning Tension into Traction

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Have you ever found yourself banging your head against the same wall over and over again?  Chances are, if you routinely find yourself in the same situation without a win-win resolution, you haven’t learned the lesson.

“If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.”

In my work with others, and even in my own personal experiences, I have found there are four basic approaches, or responses, to conflict.

Although I think most people would agree that getting a different result means considering a different approach, or response, we tend to stick with our “go-to” when it comes to embracing conflict. As a result, we find ourselves embracing that same head-banging wall over and over again.

The Four Most-Common Approaches, or Responses, to Conflict

  1. Get the win! When you keep pressing on, determined to get your point across, determined to be right, and determined to win at all costs, even if you damage, or lose, the relationship in the process.  This hyper-controlling response to conflict is the classic case of Win-Lose.
  2. Keep the peace. When you would rather keep everyone calm and happy than share your opinion or get your way, even when it “secretly” makes you feel sad, resentful, or hopeless that the relationship will never get better. This passive-aggressive response to conflict is the classic case of Lose-Win.
  3. Just say it! When you let the emotion of the moment take over, and you say exactly what comes to mind before thinking it through.  In times like this, you may even use specific words or a tone that is hurtful to others or incites others to also get excited in the moment, going “toe-to-toe” with whatever you may say.  This explosive reaction to conflict is the classic case of the Lose-Lose.
  4. It is what it is. When you simply choose to ignore the tension, deciding not to engage, believing if you say or do nothing, the problem will eventually solve itself or just fade away, and if not, you will just quietly do it yourself.  Ignoring the conflict or deciding to just fix the problem yourself is the classic case of Lose-Lose.

So, which one of the four is you?  And why do you do what you do?

As a young child, I doubt that you consciously decided how you would approach, respond, manage, or react to conflict.  And yet, you probably dealt with conflict in one of the four ways listed above.  In fact, you probably continue to manage conflict in a similar way.  Again, the question is, why?  


Why do you breathe?

Why are you right-handed or left-handed?

Why do you like math or disklike math?

Why do you like the beach more than the mountains?

In other words, why would you question something that seems as natural as breathing?


The same is true with how you choose to embrace conflict.

  1. Doesn’t everyone want to “win” the battle?
  2. Doesn’t everyone know that it’s better to save the relationship than solve the problem?
  3. Doesn’t everyone know that it’s better to just get it out than holding it in?
  4. Doesn’t everyone know that if you just ignore it, it will eventually go away?

We continue to go about what we do, exactly as we have done it, even when we don’t get the results we want, because we aren’t aware that there is any other way.  I mean, after all, what we do, how we act, and how we interact with others is just who we are. 

It is only with awareness that we begin to understand that our way might not be the only way, or in some cases, the best way.  Sometimes you have to choose a different way to get a different response and make that head-banging wall go away.

The key is knowing there is a different way, even though it has been completely unknown up until now.  And even when you realize there is another option, it is not a natural choice, nor is it comfortable, enjoyable, or an option you would be good at taking.

This is why asking the question, “Why do I keep banging my head against the same wall over and over again?” is so important.  Because at least the question may lead you to the answer, “It’s because you don’t know there is any other way.”

Awareness is the KEY to change and growth.

When I first took the Shapes Assessment powered by PsychoGeometrics®, I scored a 1 in Rectangle, a 1 in Box, a 1 in Circle, a 9 in Triangle, and a 9 in Squiggle.  No wonder I never questioned what I do, how I do it, or why I do it.  Or why I never got the hint or clue that perhaps I was the one responsible for continuing to hit the same wall.

Taking the Shapes Assessment helped me recognize and understand my natural strengths and challenges for communicating, including managing or mismanaging conflict.  The light bulb went off in my head!  I knew I had the power to decrease my visits to that same head-banging wall and increase the quality of my relationships, both at work and at home. Furthermore, I knew that when I did re-visit that wall (after all, none of us are perfect), I would now know how to get around it, get through it, tunnel underneath it, or jump over it.  Knowing and understanding my Shape Strengths and Shape Challenges was life-changing for me.  Things didn’t change overnight, but they began to change day by day as I increased my knowledge and developed the skills to match my natural strengths and genuine desire for healthy and productive relationships.

Besides, I was tired of banging my head against that same wall, and I bet you are, too.  Take the Shapes Assessment and learn how to embrace your Shape Strengths, manage your Shape Challenges, and leverage all five Shapes to strengthen your relationships, your family, your team, and your communication so you can live a more peaceful, balanced, and productive life. 

Are you a primary Box, Triangle, Rectangle, Circle, or a Squiggle? 

What’s your Secondary Shape, or do you have a tie between two or more Shapes? 

It doesn’t matter what Shapes you are. It only matters that you know your Shapes Score.  With this understanding you can then learn the art of Shape Flexing, using all five Shapes for effective communication, including how to turn tension into traction, developing and strengthening healthy relationships throughout your life.

The Shapes Assessment identifies your traits, your behaviors, and how you relate to others, plus giving you a personalized Shapes Profile Report with tips and strategies based on your specific Shapes Score.  You also get a multi-page Shapes Guide, teaching you how to communicate and Shape Flex to others.

Click here to Take the Shapes Assessment    Use the code traction and save 20%. 

  1. It’s Simple to Understand
  2. It’s Easy to Remember
  3. It’s Quick, only takes 15 minutes.
  4. It Works, and it’s Fun!


NOTE:  Susan Hite is the President of Hite Resources, Inc. since 2001 and is the creator and founder of Susan’s Train Your Brain Series,™ 7 principles for living a more peaceful, balanced, and productive life.  About 20 years ago, and by coincidence, Susan was introduced to a communication tool called PsychoGeometrics®.  Susan wanted to learn more, becoming a licensed and certified Subject Matter Expert of PsychoGeometrics®, and sharing how to use PsychoGeometrics® to strengthen communication with hundreds of companies and thousands of people from more than 60 countries worldwide.  In June of 2021, Susan bought PsychoGeometrics®, featuring five Shapes, representing five different behaviors that can be used to link behavior to results.