Conflict is an inevitable part of human interaction, and can be one of the most productive parts of coming together as a team.
Researchers Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified five different modes of conflict that individuals and groups can use to navigate and resolve conflicts: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. It’s important to understand which one YOU are, as well as what kind of style your manager(s) naturally gravitate towards so you can have an actionable plan for when conflict pops up, as it always will in a diverse workplace. Turning that “conflict” as a healthy discussion to create positive outcomes is what workplace collaboration is all about.
Competing mode is when one party aims to win and the other party loses. This mode is typically used when the stakes are high and time is of the essence. It is often used in situations where there is a clear winner and loser, such as in sports or legal disputes.
Collaborating mode is when both parties work together to find a solution that meets the needs of both. This mode is typically used when the stakes are high and both parties have something to gain from a successful outcome. It is often used in situations where both parties share a common goal, such as in business partnerships or research projects.
Compromising mode is when both parties give up something in order to reach a middle ground. This mode is typically used when the stakes are moderate and time is of the essence. It is often used in situations where both parties have some shared interests but also have competing interests, such as in politics or negotiations.
Avoiding mode is when one party chooses to avoid the conflict altogether. This mode is typically used when the stakes are low and the issue is not important enough to address. It is often used in situations where one party feels that the issue is not worth the effort to resolve.
Accommodating mode is when one party willingly gives in to the other party's demands. This mode is typically used when the stakes are low and the issue is not important enough to address or when one party feels that the relationship is more important than the issue at hand.
Each conflict mode has its own strengths and weaknesses and should be used appropriately based on the specific circumstances of the conflict. It's important to be aware of these modes and to use the most appropriate one in any given situation, so that conflicts can be resolved in a constructive and effective way.
Which style(s) do you relate to most? Keep in mind that no one uses only one style; your style might also change depending on your environment or the person you’re interacting with.