Recall that there are five different conflict styles. Collaborating is a conflict resolution style in which parties work jointly to try to meet all of each other’s needs. Collaborating really focuses on finding a win-win solution.
As a style, collaborating is:
Let's look at some examples of collaborating as a style.
EXAMPLELet’s say you want to preserve the environmental integrity of a certain piece of land. However, there are farmers who use this land, and they want to protect their jobs. You could use a collaborative style to look at this issue and problem-solve in order to meet both your environmental need and the farmers’ need to preserve jobs.
EXAMPLEYou can also find opportunities for collaboration in your personal life. Let's say there is a work-life balance issue at home. Your partner has just taken on some extra work duties, and it's really thrown a wrench into family life arrangements. You sit down with your partner to have a discussion because you want to ensure that the two of you and the kids have some quality time together. You also want to ensure that you can still share some of the household duties, and that they won't all fall on the one spouse who's not taking on the extra responsibilities at work. You then collaborate to find a way to meet the needs of the changing work dynamic, as well as the family needs.
Most conflict-resolution processes and techniques work toward bringing parties together in a collaborative style, as this style is really focused on creating positive outcomes and preventing negative outcomes.
A positive outcome is a resolution to a conflict that a party perceives as meeting his or her needs and/or reducing the likelihood of further conflict.
A negative outcome is a resolution that the party perceives as not meeting his or her needs and/or increasing the likelihood of further conflict.
Accommodating, which was covered in another tutorial, is often the opposite of collaborating because as a style, accommodating is high in cooperativeness and low in assertiveness.
In the example of changing work/life responsibilities, someone with an accommodating style might give in and offer to take on extra responsibilities at home even though he/she maybe feels a little resentful about it. It’s hard for this person to say no; he/she is uncomfortable being assertive, or standing up for his/her needs.
Someone using the collaborative style would instead want to recognize the needs of both parties, then problem-solve so that all needs could be met.