There are a variety of conflict styles that people use to manage conflict. However, there is no one correct way to handle every personal or workplace conflict. Each conflict is unique, and depending on the individual circumstances of the disagreement and the personalities involved, different strategies are needed to reach the best solution. According to Thomas Kilmann, there are five main conflict styles. Being aware of how each of the five conflict styles can be helpful will increase your ability to work through conflict and maintain good working relationships. There can be positive and negative consequences to each approach. The most effective approach in most circumstances is Collaboration- the win win approach. Below are the five conflict styles.
- Accommodation- To surrender one’s own needs and wishes to accommodate the other party. Sometimes we need to do this. Something is important to your boss or co-workers and might not be as important to you. You may choose to accommodate. Be careful to not always do this. You might end up getting upset and feel like your needs are not getting met
- Avoidance – To avoid or postpone conflict by ignoring it, changing the subject, etc. Avoidance can be useful as a temporary measure to buy time. It might also be effective in dealing with very minor, non-recurring conflicts. In more severe cases, conflict avoidance can involve severing a relationship or leaving a group. Just like with accommodation, avoidance can also cause you long term upset if this is how you handle conflict on a regular basis.
- Competition- To assert one’s viewpoint at the potential expense of another. It can be useful when achieving one’s objectives outweighs one’s concern for the relationship. I wouldn’t recommend this style for teamwork. You won’t be the favorite on the team if you are always competing with others.
- Compromise-The aim of compromise is to reach agreement. Both sides give and both sides get a little of what they want. Both people give up part of what they wanted or needed to settle the problem. The next level would be Collaboration.
- Collaboration-To work together to find a mutually beneficial solution-a win-win solution to conflict. Often a third alternative is discussed which allows both people to fully get their needs met. There needs to be enough trust, communication and respect to collaborate with each other. Collaboration can also be time-intensive so might not always be appropriate for all work issues. However, if you can collaborate, this is the ideal situation.
Which conflict style do you use more often? What are the usual outcomes of the way you handle conflict? If you are used to handling conflict with the same conflict style each time and don’t get the results you want, try on a different approach next time. If your conflict style is working, I applaud you!
I would love to hear your thoughts!