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Lesson 28: Take the SCARF Assessment / Conflict Pivot

The SCARF Model assesses the differences in people’s social motivation. Some people are more sensitive to status threat and rewards, others to certainty and relatedness. Having SCARF needs satisfied drives engagement and retention.

Status – Your perception of where you are in relation to people around you. Feedback is threat to status as an example. An increase in status gets a bigger response normally than a monetary reward.

Certainty – Ambiguity creates a danger response because the brain wants to be able to predict what is going to happen next. Unclear expectations about what is going to happen next or what role people play pushes the hot button.

Autonomy – What people experience a stressor and they have no control, but when they have some level of choice and therefore control, this reduced the response.

Relatedness – Feeling stressed when you meet new people because your brain perceives them as a threat. After bonding with them you feel that they are like you rather than a threat.

Fairness – a perception of fairness or no fairness stimulates a significant response.

Conflict Pivot

A conflict pivot is a purposeful change in the direction you’re focusing during conflict in order to
achieve better results. The three conflict pivots outlined here help you dissolve conflict in
ongoing personal or professional relationships by uncovering why the conflict has snagged your
attention and how to free yourself from its grip. They will also help prevent some conflict from
occurring at all.

1. Pivot away from your Stuck Story and toward the message. Your stuck story is trying to tell
you something. Discover what it is.

The first conflict pivot is to stop ruminating on your Stuck Story and attend instead to what your
Stuck Story is trying to tell you.
When you experience ongoing tension or conflict, you mentally replay what’s happened as you
attempt to understand it and figure out what to do. Over time, these replays lead to a
shorthand story of the conflict that becomes polished in memory.
Like a movie trailer, your Stuck Story of the conflict is a montage of the most powerful and
noteworthy moments, with certain scenes selected and others omitted. It’s not the story of the
conflict; it is your story of the conflict.
Your Stuck Story is rich with meaning if you know what to look for. Let’s look now.

The second conflict pivot is to stop dwelling on the things they are doing or not doing and
attend instead to the reasons you’re hooked by the conflict.
States of conflict occur when something important feels threatened or insulted. The things you
dwell on are hints about the true source of your unease in the conflict. You must attend to
them to free yourself.
The list below, adapted from work by Dr. Stella Ting-Toomey, describes some of the most
common “conflict hooks,” those underlying reasons a conflict has snagged you. Conflict hooks
are connected to your identity, the way you see yourself and want others to see you. When
someone appears to challenge or dismiss what you hold dear about yourself, you get hooked
(snagged by your discomfort).
While you may be hooked by any of the sources below, most of us tend to have one or two that
are particularly strong and the most common source of frustration, tension, and conflict for us.

  1. Who is the tension or conflict with and what is it about?
    I have ongoing tension or conflict with _____________ about

Example: I have ongoing conflict with my husband Jim about the way he leaves me out of
major financial and home decisions.

  1. To what have you reacted most strongly in the conflict?
    In the conflict, I have reacted most strongly to _________________________

Note: This question is not about what interpretation you reacted to strongly, but what
thing(s) that happened most caused a reaction in you.
Example: In the conflict, I have reacted most strongly to hearing that Jim was meeting with
realtors and he hadn’t even told me he wanted to buy a new house! I’ve also reacted
strongly to finding out he has his own checking account separate from our joint checking

  1. When you tell your story of the conflict to others or yourself, what do you focus on most?
    When I tell my story of the conflict to others or myself, I dwell on _________

Example: When I tell my story of the conflict to others or myself I dwell on the way Jim
repeatedly makes important purchasing and financial decisions without me, how little
regard he must have for my intelligence, and how much he likes to have power over me.

Pivot away from their behavior and toward your own hooks. They aren’t the source of your discomfort, you are. Discover what’s hooked you and why.

Competence – Capable, intelligent, skilled, having expertise

Autonomy – Independent, self-reliant, boundaries are respected Fellowship – Included, likeable, worthy

Status – having assets like attractive, powerful, reputation, material worth

Reliability – Trustworthy, dependable, loyal

Integrity – needing respect for our dignity, honor, virtue, good character

While it is not necessary that the insult or threat you experience fall neatly into one of the
above categories in order to have success with your conflict pivot, most people find that when
they reflect deeply enough, one or more of the above applies.

  1. Why do the things you listed in Questions 2 and 3 bother you?
    I’m bothered because _____________________________________________

Example: I’m bothered because I don’t like being left out like a second-class citizen, I don’t
think a husband should have financial power over a wife, and I want to be seen as the smart
person I am.

  1. What are the ways you see yourself that you suspect the other person may not?
    I suspect that _____________ doesn’t view me as __________

Example: I worry that Jim doesn’t view me as smart, capable of contributing to good
financial decisions, or as his intellectual equal.

  1. What conflict hooks have snagged you in this conflict?
    I have been hooked by _____________’s apparent disregard for or challenge
    to my (circle those that apply) competence / autonomy / fellowship / status / reliability /
    integrity / other (name it here: ________________).
    Example: I have been hooked by Jim’s apparent disregard for my competence, my desire to
    be included in decisions (fellowship), and maybe also by my wish that he see me as his equal

Pivot away from the past and toward the now. Choose your freedom by discovering solutions you have the power to fulfill.

The third conflict pivot is to stop focusing on the past and attend instead to where your
freedom lies – in what you do now.
Conflict thrives in the unknowable past – who said or did what, who’s to blame, what really
happened. Memory is very unreliable, even in instances where you feel quite certain you
remember with great accuracy. Conflict resolution and choosing your freedom from a conflict
are present- and future-focused acts.
Conflict also thrives in your reliance on the other person to set things right. When you rely on
the other person to change what they’re doing, and connect their actions to your happiness,
you hand over power. The third pivot is about taking back your power, and rewriting your story
of the conflict.

  1. What are you protecting yourself from?
    I am protecting myself from

Example: I am protecting myself from my fear that Jim views me as “the little woman,” that
I’ve married a man who does not see me as his equal. I’m protecting myself from the
discomfort of admitting that I’m not as smart about finances as I pretend to be.

  1. What do you want for yourself from here forward in this situation?
    I want _________________________________________________________

Example: I want to feel responsible and capable financially. I don’t want to wonder all the
time what he really thinks of me. I want there not to be constant tension and bickering
about money. I want to be in a real partnership with my husband.

  1. What will you do to make this possible for yourself? List only those things that do not
    require the other person’s actions or thinking to change.
    I will ___________________________________________________________

Example I will take a personal financial management class and tell Jim I’m doing so. I will
talk to Jim to find out whether it’s even possible for him to view me as his equal and what it
would take. I will not squabble constantly about the ways he leaves me out and will instead
ask to be part of some decisions and build from there. I will use all of these experiences to
determine whether or not this is the right marriage for me to remain in.

Here is a version of Hot Buttons from the Conflict Dynamics Profile:

Abrasive – having to deal with someone who is arrogant or sarcastic and generally abrasive and often negative.

Aloof – having to deal with people who isolate themselves, do not ask for input form others or isolate themselves. It may mean a hands-off style or little feedback.

Hostile – must interact with someone who is especially upset, who loses their temper, becomes angry or yells at others.

Micromanaging – dealing with someone who is constantly monitoring and checking on the work of others. People feel that they are not trusted and may doubt their own contributions.

Overly Analytical –having to deal with people who are perfectionists, overanalyzing things, and focus too much on minor issues.

Self-Centered – dealing with people who are self-centered or believe that they are always right.

People who come across as know-it-alls and put themselves first, maybe not even noticing the impact on others.

Unappreciative – having to deal with people who fail to give credit where credit is due and seldom praise good performance.

Unreliable – dealing with people who are unreliable, miss deadlines, and cannot be counted on.

Comes across as being disorganized with poor organization or management skills.

Untrustworthy – being upset when having to deal with others who exploit others, take undeserved credit, and cannot be trusted. Untrustworthy people often undermine or sabotage other’s efforts, or authority, or feelings of self-worth.

 ©Certified Divorce Coach Program-Divorce Coaching Inc. 


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