When it comes to conflict, sometimes it isn’t the subject of the conversation that causes the rift: it’s the framework in which we discuss it. It’s the assumptions we make when we dive in. In my experience, the CVI can be a great way to understand this on a deeper level — the way in which one person approaches a topic might in fact be completely triggering for another person.

Take Innovators and Builders, for instance. Innovators by nature are curious, exploratory — they are asking questions and pursuing every option to solve a problem. Builders, on the other hand, are by nature confident in their own abilities — they intuitively know what to do, and they do it without wasting much time. To an Innovator, the power is in the question. To the Builder, the power is in the doing. An Innovator working with a Builder to solve a problem, therefore, can come with some natural conflict. Without clarity in the framework, the Innovator’s questions can be received by a Builder as not trusting them, or questioning their decision making skills — which is not true, because all the Innovator wants is insight and understanding to grow wisdom. Their questions have nothing to do with the Builder, per se. Conversely, the Builder brushing off the innovative solutions feels like an insult to the Innovator, and implies to the Innovator that they’re not wise. That’s not what the Builder likely means. More likely they are thinking, “Great ideas, let’s pick one, try and see what we learn, then we’ll have more concrete data to make the next decision.”

Each side makes perfect sense, but each side completely misinterprets the experience they are having with the other person. If they don’t both take time to properly connect, the Innovator is going to be questioning everything the Builder wants to do — which will be very frustrating and triggering for the Builder! And the Builder’s negative response will undermine and trigger the Innovator — how dare the Builder push back against valid, insightful questions?!

You can see the problem.

This is why it’s important to understand the framework from which each member of your team is approaching a problem.If you know that, without making assumptions, you can communicate so much more affectively. You can affirm the values in each other, and still solve the problem. The Innovator can affirm the Builder’s ability and frame their questions in a way that does exactly that — and the Builder can know not to take any questions personally.

Understanding each other, understanding our assumptions, our values, our starting points, our framework, is key to avoiding pointless conflict that distracts us from the real problem we are trying to solve.