More conflict! – The Five Methods of Managing Conflict

Posted April 18th, 2008

There are five typical methods that people resort to when managing conflict. These were identified by two leading academics, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann and are defined as follows.

Avoiding – This approach is so called when people ignore the conflict or withdraw from it. It may well be the best course of action when the conflict is trivial or when the potential disruption outweighs intervention. As this approach rarely resolves anything, we can determine it as a lose-lose situation.

– This approach is used in order to maintain harmonious relations, where you place another’s needs above your own. You accommodate when the issue is not all that important to you or you are ‘building markers’ for a later issue. As you allow the other party to get what they want, we can determine this as a lose-win situation.

Forcing – This approach is so called when you use your formal authority to resolve the dispute. The method may be used when you need a quick resolution and it works well when unpopular actions must be taken on important issues or when commitment by others is not critical. We can determine this as a win–lose situation.

Compromising – This approach requires each party to give up something of value and is common in dealing with interpersonal situations. It works best when there is parity in personal power, when it is desirable to achieve a temporary solution to a complex issue, or when time is critical. As both parties have to give up something in these scenarios when can determine it as a lose-lose situation.

– This is a problem-solving approach to conflict. Each party/side re-evaluates their position on issues and work together to form a joint view or solution. It works well when time pressures are minimal and the issue is too important to compromise. As both parties get something out of this approach we can determine it as a win-win solution.

This is an excerpt from the workbook of the Trainer Bubble training materials, ‘Conflict Handling’. Visit today to find out more.


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