Conflict Management

Handwritten by TVD

<img src=””Conflict definition.” alt=”Conflict Definition” width=”100%”/>

Many are uncomfortable with conflict. When faced with conflict, they are either crippled by it or don’t know the best approach to use to transcend it.

We all know that conflict is inevitable. It is something that impacts us regularly. Conflict will always exist.

While conflict can at times provoke destruction, sadness and unwanted results. It can also promote positive results. For example, conflicts can lead to the creation of strong relationships, invincible teams and great nations. And we can look to history for proof of that.

The truth is, we should not view conflict as negative. Instead we should focus on the value or opportunities it can bring. Because, it is not conflict by itself that truly matters; it is how we manage it that makes the real difference.

While one may think that conflict always leads to a win/lose situation where someone wins while the other loses. This way of managing conflict is very competitive in nature and is not always the best approach.

I Win. You Lose.

Conflict Management Strategies

I recently came across the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument which serves as an interesting model for handling conflict.

Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann’s model shows us that there are actually five conflict handling strategies – Accommodation, Avoidance, Compromise, Collaboration and Competition. And, each of these are useful in different situations.

Your response to conflicts will depend on two things – your concern for yourself (horizontal axis) and your concern for others (vertical axis).

Accommodation – You may want to be accommodating when you believe the other party has the better solution and you also place a high value on the relationship. You may also use this approach to show others that you can be reasonable.

Avoidance – You may want to avoid conflict when the issue is extremely trivial and of no importance to you. It is also useful when emotions are high and you need to “cool down”. It is important to not overuse this approach. You don’t want to side-step problems that could eventually erupt into something bigger.

Compromise – Compromise is when two parties come in the middle to make a deal; hence each party loses something to resolve the conflict. You may want to compromise when a temporary solution is needed. However, overuse of this strategy can lead to lack of trust and lack of focus on high level goals.

Collaboration (Assertive) – Collaboration is a the strategy used when both parties attempt to achieve both of their goals. In other words, it’s a “win, win”. This approach requires lots of trust and also time as you work towards reaching a consensus.

Competition (Aggressive) –Competition is a win-lose approach; One’s goals are seen as most important and must be achieved without cooperating with the other party. This strategy is often used in an emergency when a quick decision is necessary and people are aware and support the approach. However, if overused, people around you become less empowered and may withhold valuable feedback.

Different Strategies for Different Conflicts.

In the business world, we often face conflicts – whether it be with business partners, customers or employees. It is important to understand that how we respond to conflict can either enhance or limit our success.

We tend to default to one of the conflict strategies depending on our personality. But it’s important to realize that different conflicts require different approaches.

Now that you know about these conflict strategies. I hope it will give you some guidance on how to think and respond to conflict. May the conflicts you face lead to your growth and opportunities to positively transform your world.

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