Using a Conflict Style Assessment to Strengthen Your Relationship (Couples Quizzes)

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Identify Your Conflict Style

Conflict can be difficult to navigate, and everyone has their own approach. Our conflict style assessment will help you identify which of the five approaches you use in order to improve your relationships. From there, you can explore strategies to enhance how you interact with others.

Identifying your conflict style helps you become aware of the approach that you naturally tend to take when dealing with a disagreement. This understanding can be powerful because it can help you learn effective strategies for resolving issues and creating stronger relationships. Our conflict style assessment will help you evaluate which of the five approaches you use in tough situations.

We know from the research that of the 5 conflict styles, 3 are functional, and 2 are dysfunctional and have been shown to lead to relationship dissatisfaction, separating and divorce. Here is an overview of the styles:

Functional Conflict Management Styles

  • Conflict Avoiders: Prefer to focus on similarities instead of differences and avoid high emotional intensity levels.
  • 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 in seeing multiple sides of an issue. Their emotional intensity is midway between avoidance and volatility.

Dysfunctional Conflict Management Styles

  • Hostile Couples: Show high levels of contempt, defensiveness, criticism, and lack of support or understanding on the part of both partners. If hostile couples don’t change how they communicate or treat each other, they are likely to separate or feel trapped in an unhappy relationship
  • Hostile-Detached Couples: (The most likely to divorce.) Conflict is experienced more like a standoff than a fight, with what John Gottman describes as “high levels of emotional detachment and resignation.”

Since few (or any!) couples actively choose or prefer to be hostile or detached, our conflict style assessment focused on the first 3 functional conflict resolution styles. Arguments escalate to hostility and contempt when emotions are not properly regulated, but conflict avoidance, validation, and volatility can all be productive ways to talk about differences effectively. One of the best ways to move forward is to understand your own preferences when it comes to conflict resolution and to learn whether or not you and your partner share the same style. This conflict style assessment tool will be most useful if you both complete the short quiz and share your results.

Conflict Style Assessment Tool


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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