5 Conflict Management Styles… which do you tend to express?

Conflict management seems like an eternal hot topic to me. It’s one people skill it seems like either really excites you or makes you run in terror. It is not one of those where people hang out in the middle much and say “oh yeah, I could always use a little help with that.” Usually I hear “HELP ME PLEASE!” Occasionally, I will hear “I love conflict management, the challenge excites me!” Personally, I am always looking for help. Even though I am way better at it than I used to be, it’s still something I know I have to constantly work on.

When thinking of conflicts there are several symptoms that will pop up. You will see things like low trust, lots of tension, defensive and reactive. Sound familiar?

But what I would like you to think about today is how you tend to handle conflicts. The act of thinking about it will increase your awareness and prepare you to handle the next situation better. That is my goal, handle each situation a little bit better than the time before.

The 5 Conflict Management Styles* Conflict Management Styles


– win at all costs or expense of others
Pros: Usually fast.
Cons: Can offend and hurt others in the process.
Example: We’ll do it my way. Let’s just get the job done.


– disregard own needs or others needs
Pros:  Stay out of trouble for the time being.
Cons: Can lead to unresolved problems and resentment
Example: Forget about it. Let’s not make a big deal.


– put others needs first
Pros: Can keep the peace.
Cons: Can lead to unresolved problems and resentment
Example: Whatever you want is fine with me.


– seeking little wins and little concessions
Pros: Helpful if the issue is complex.
Cons: Some needs on both sides are not met.
Example: I’ll meet you half way.


– discuss and problem solve and seek mutually beneficial outcomes
Pros: Create mutual trust. Maintain positive relationships. Build commitments.
Cons: Takes time and energy
Example: I’d like to do it this way, what would you like? Let’s see how we can find a way for both of us to get what we want.

We all can use any of the conflict management styles given the situation. What you will notice though, is that you have a tendency to choose one style over another for certain types of situations. That’s ok. There are times when it is better to choose one style over another.

Conflict management is a process.

It’s not something you do one time and are done with. In order to be successful, you will need to focus on building relationships and finding ways to achieve outcomes where both parties win as much as possible.

Take some time and think about what you can do more of in managing conflict situations. If you focus on handling conflicts better, the quality of your relationships will improve; as will the effectiveness as an individual, team, and organization.


*from the works of Drs. Ralph Kilmann and Kenneth Thomas and http://www.riverhouseepress.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=97&Itemid=103



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