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Overview of 5 Conflict Styles

Overview of 5 Conflict Styles

Author: Marlene Johnson
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At the end of this lesson, the learner will understand the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Assessment and the five conflict styles it presents

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How do you typically respond in a conflict situation? That's an interesting question to explore. I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to explore five typical conflict styles with you. To do that, I want to introduce you to the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Styles Assessment. One of the most commonly used assessment tools to determine a person's preferred conflict style. This tool was developed back in 1974, by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, and it is the best known tool.

It's a short questionnaire of 30 questions. You answer these questions, and it will tell you your likely behavior in a conflict. I really encourage you to take this little questionnaire if you have a chance. It's really insightful and interesting.

Now, the questionnaire will assess your conflict style and it lists five common conflict styles. And they're right here. I have them on this grid. The five styles, competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. You'll notice here, that the grid is assertiveness. This is high assertiveness and low. And over here on the axis, you have cooperativeness. This end would be low, and this end would be high.

Let's take a moment and define cooperative and assertiveness. So assertiveness, that is behavior in which a person confidently makes a statement without need of proof, affirming his or her rights without attacking another person.

So, an assertive person will stand up and say what they think, what they feel, make it clear, but not necessarily or not at all attack someone else for the way they feel. On the other hand, we have cooperativeness. Cooperativeness is behavior in which parties work in concert to achieve their mutual and respective individual goals. So, the axis here you see, has assertiveness along one side and cooperativeness along the bottom.

So let's take a look at each of these five styles and talk about how they fall within this graph. So, we'll start with accommodating and avoiding First of all, the accommodating style. That is a conflict resolution style in which one party helps to meet another's needs at the expense of his or her own. And you'll notice that accommodating is here on the access, which means it's highly cooperative person, is willing to work with others. However, low here on assertiveness, accommodating style, is not very assertive, but very cooperative.

So, let's look now at avoiding. Avoiding is a conflict resolution style in which a party does not make any attempt to address or resolve the conflict. So, it's probably easy to see we're avoiding might fall on this scale. Avoiding is down here, low in cooperativeness, and also low in assertiveness. You know, you're not going to say what you feel, and you're not really working with others, you're simply avoiding.

So, those are two styles, avoiding and accommodating. Let's move up and look at the ones here at the top of the graph, competing and collaborating. So, let's start with competing. Competing is a conflict resolution style in which one party seeks to meet his or her own needs at the expense of another party's needs. Sometimes this is known as forcing. So, as we would expect, competing is high in assertiveness. Speaking up for what this party wants or needs. Very high in assertiveness, and also low in cooperativeness. OK. Very low in cooperativeness and high in assertiveness.

Let's take a look now collaborating. Collaborating is a conflict resolution style in which parties work jointly to try to meet all of each other's needs. Sometimes, also referred to as problem solving. So, you'll notice collaborating is high up here in assertiveness because the party who is collaborating is speaking about their own needs. But collaborating is also high in cooperativeness. A collaborating style is willing to work with others in terms of their needs as well. So, that's collaborating and competing.

You notice we have one style left here in the middle, compromising. Let's take a look at that style. OK. Compromising. Compromising is a conflict resolution style in which parties agree to sacrifice some of their needs in exchange for having others met. So, a compromising style is right in the middle, sort of in the middle in terms of assertiveness, and the middle in terms of cooperating. So, that's where you find that particular style.

Now, you may wonder well, there's five styles here, what's the preferred style. What's the preferred style. Is there one? Let's take a look at that. The preferred conflict style is actually the conflict style an individual most often or habitually uses.

So, when you take this questionnaire, you may find that there's one of these styles that you tend towards. It's something that you're most comfortable with in most situations. Now, this doesn't mean it's right or it's wrong. And it doesn't mean that you're not capable of using all of these styles. In fact, an individual can use any and all of these styles in a given situation.

The preferred style just tends to be the one that we're most comfortable with, and we go towards that style in most situations, and there really isn't any right or wrong here. Different styles are also appropriate in different circumstances. So, in closing, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed this assessment tool in 1974. It's become the best known assessment tool for conflict styles. I encourage you to take it if you have a chance.

There are five styles, and you could find your preferred style by taking this quiz, and do know that once you find your preferred style, it doesn't mean it's your only style. You are capable of using any style. It's just that as individuals we typically have one that we tend towards. Thank you for being part of this tutorial. I look forward to seeing you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Preferred Conflict Style

    The conflict style an individual most often or habitually uses.

  • Collaborating

    A conflict resolution style in which parties work jointly to try to meet all of each other’s needs (sometimes also referred to as problem solving).

  • Compromising

    A conflict resolution style in which parties agree to sacrifice some of their needs in exchange for having others met.

  • Competing

    A conflict resolution style in which one party seeks to meet his/her own needs at the expense of another party’s needs (sometimes also referred to as forcing).

  • Avoiding

    A conflict resolution style in which a party does not make any attempt to address or resolve the conflict.

  • Accommodating

    A conflict resolution style in which one party helps to meet another’s needs at the expense of his/her own.

  • Cooperativeness

    Behavior in which two parties work in concert to achieve their mutual and respective individual goals.

  • Assertiveness

    Behavior in which a person confidently makes a statement without need of proof, affirming his/her rights without attacking another’s.

  • Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Styles Assessment

    One of the most commonly used assessment tools to determine a person’s preferred conflict style.