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Some people experience a change in preferred style as conflict heats up. They begin a conflict with one style but as emotions and stress rise, they shift to a different style. They may shift:
Others around them may be relieved and pleasantly surprised by a Storm shift, if it is a change towards greater flexibility. But others are likely to be upset if it is a change towards less flexibility. Some people who make a Storm shift do so quite suddenly. This is particularly confusing for others, if the shift is towards Avoiding. If it is towards Directing, it may be shocking.
Study your patterns in Calm and Storm. Are there major changes? If any of the numbers increase or decrease by three or more, chances are that others around you are confused when this happens.
A small Storm shift is normal. Even a large shift is not necessarily bad. The key is to be aware that it happens and to manage it well. For example:
Suggested Learning Exercise: Compare your numbers in Calm and Storm for each style. The printout shows specifically in which style there is a significant shift in style. If there is a shift in any of your styles of three points or more from Calm to Storm, pay attention to this. If the shift is five points or more, chances are that your Storm shift confuses or alarms others at times. In this case, the tips above for managing your Storm shift are likely to bring special rewards for you as you get better at applying them.
Ron Kraybill, author of Style Matters, credits early awareness that many people experience a stress shift from calm to storm to Professor Susan Gilmore and Patrick Fraleigh, authors of the insightful personality inventory, the Frlendly Style Profile (Eugene, OR: Friendly Press). Recent research in neurobiology provides important new support for insights about human functioning that, back in the 1980s when Gilmore and Fraleigh developed their instrument, were largely ignored.
We now know that under stress, brain functioning changes. As fear, anger, or chronic stress escalate, our higher, cognitive brain functions are increasingly shoved aside by the reptilian brain, whose mission is primarily about survival and whose coping strategies are limited to fight, flight, or flee. The research findings demonstrating this are now so clear that conflict style models unable to recognize the behavior changes that inevitably accompany escalation of conflict are out of date. Here's a clear, detailed description.