Quiz: What’s Your Conflict Style?

There Is More Than One Way to “Fight Fair.” (Three to Be Exact)

The Gottmans’ research shows that there is more than one right way to manage conflict. They observed research participants discussing things they disagreed about and the results were groundbreaking. Although therapists have been teaching active listening for decades, we now know that you can have a wonderfully happy and stable relationship in many different ways. In fact, there are three functional conflict management styles, including:

• Conflict Avoiders: Prefer to focus on similarities instead of differences and tend to avoid high levels of emotional intensity.

• Volatile Couples: Don’t shy away from differences, and instead discuss them with a lot of emotion, laughter, and honesty.

• Validating Couples: Show high levels of empathy, and value seeing both sides of an issue. Their emotional intensity is midway between avoidance and volatility.

You might think that one of these three approaches is the best way to manage conflict, but the research showed that all three styles were equally effective. This is crucial to remember, especially if you and your partner have different preferences and values in how you feel about conflict. There will be times when one of you wants to talk and the other doesn’t. There may also be times when you are tempted to train your partner in the benefits of your preferred conflict style. This rarely works, and often leads to yet another problem: conflict conflict (ie arguing about what it the “right” way to argue).

Take the quiz below to find out your preferred conflict style.

Note: This quiz is not a diagnostic tool and is for entertainment purposes only, not to take the place of assessment by a licensed professional.

There are also two dangerous conflict styles to avoid because the research showed that these two styles led to disconnection and sometimes separation. Try to avoid Hostile and Hostile-Detached conflict management styles, which display contempt, and high levels of negativity.

19 thoughts on “Quiz: What’s Your Conflict Style?”

    • Thanks for your response, Cocow! I’m glad you liked the quiz and learned a bit about your communication.

  1. This is a great quiz. I am validating, and learning about the down side of that and what to avoid is so helpful. I really identified with those things.
    Susan Rovello

    • Hi Susan! So glad you enjoyed the quiz! I’m validatng too with a touch of volatility as well. Thanks for leaving a note 🙂

    • Hi Emma, when you completed the quiz, the results were supposed to display. Did it not work properly?

    • Hi Michelle,

      The 3 styles are conflict avoiding, validating and volatile. You bring up a great point that I didn’t give much of an overview in the post. I’ll go back and add to it and am glad you brought it to my attention!

  2. I’m Validating.
    I have CPTSD. I put a lot of work into my personal and relational stuff, which is helpful and can make me hyperaware. Thank-you, this is very helpful and is worded in a way it helps me connect with how I’m probably exhausting my husband and compromising us.

    I can be dogged about pushing a conversation regarding areas that are not changing and I believe to be unhealthy for us. I start to feel panicked that, from my perspective, we’re not ‘making progress’. We’ve been together almost twenty years, and there are multiple areas we haven’t developed, healthily. Sometimes, the desperation to be free from CPTSD compromises, as well as the limitations of our life together, start to become very threatening. Most of the conversations seem to be about important stuff.
    There’s another exercise to move toward…What’s important and warrants a conversation, and what is better left to die on the vine?
    I recognize, the conversations can be time-consuming, prohibitive and ultimately exhausting for both of us. At least, fifty percent of them end up being counterproductive.

    I will use this to help guide me, thank-you.

    “The validating style can be time-consuming.
    This is great if you’re learning new things, but not so great if you’re re-hashing things that would be better put to rest. Sometimes it’s better to bite your tongue even if your feelings are hurt.
    Save the difficult conversation for the important stuff so you can have more time to spend getting work done or having fun.”

    • Hi Tania,

      Thank you so much for so many things: your self-awareness, your willingness to share your thoughts for others to see and learn, and for your commitment to personal and relationship growth.

      These conflict styles are complex, and implementing changes takes time so be patient with yourself.

      With much gratitude, Laura

  3. I found out that my style is validating which waist a lot of time trying to accommodate or understand other person’s feeling instead of carrying on with my work at hand. however, it was an interesting quiz.

    • Thanks for taking the quiz and leaving a comment. Don’t worry, there are pros and cons to all three styles, so even though sometimes you might waste time, you benefit from clearing the air which means resentments are less likely. Glad you found it interesting!

  4. Thanks for this short quiz. I thought about the graphic used for this assessment. Having 4 photos made me think you might identify FOUR styles of conflict, but only 3 were listed. I guessed at my answers mostly. I felt I could see behind each option and wanted to choose the one that was most healthy/productive in resolving conflict. Yet I know I get “stuck” in the middle of conflicts, especially between my second husband and his 2 adult daughters. Ugh! Do I just want PEACE without resolution? Not really. But I don’t want to triangulate anything either. I also identify as #9 enneagram, the Peacemaker. I need to do what is healthy for myself as well as support my husband in his desire to connect with his daughters…except I see that he really DOESN’T want to put in the effort. So sad!

    • Thanks so much for your feedback about the graphic, I can see how four images could be misleading, but ironically, actually, there are four conflict styles. There are 3 functional styles and one that is toxic. Obviously, it’s not appropriate for me to diagnose a problem on an internet quiz, but contempt is the thing to avoid. Also, I appreciate you sharing the challenge of balancing the tightrope between peacemaking and conflict management. It’s a constant challenge! Best of luck to you with your situation Cyndee it doesn’t sound easy and I appreciate your sharing your thoughts!

      Best, Laura

  5. Wow, wonderful weblog structure! How lengthy have you been running a blog for? you make blogging glance easy. The entire look of your web site is great, let alone the content material!!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes I think I should consider a Part 2 Quiz. Thanks for the idea 🙂

  6. I’m shocked at the accuracy of the findings. My validating style can be really time consuming however, I don’t care that people think I’m too emotional. I rather prefer being too emotional rather than bottling things up. It would however, be beneficial for me to learn skills of how to keep the venting short, precise and less charged.

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