What is your approach to managing conflict?
Based on the responses to the Conflict Resolution Questionnaire (n.d.), my preferred conflict resolution style is compromising, which means that, I tend to: “express about average assertiveness and cooperation” and that some of my colleagues may think of me as a “fox” because of my ability to make trade offs to accomplish what I want by helping the other person gain what he/she wants. Some thought processes may involve:
- This isn’t important enough to fight over
- I don’t want to be unreasonable
- If I give her this, maybe she’ll give me that
- We could both live with that
People tend to use one of the first four conflict styles – competing, avoiding, accommodating or collaborating (Thomas & Kilmann, 1974). The fifth one compromise, “describes a state that can be used temporarily to get someone to move from one of the other styles. For example, if the person is acting like a shark (competing) you can help him/her to become less assertive and more cooperative” Conflict Resolution Questionnaire (n.d.).
Depending on the context, each of these styles can be valuable in resolving a conflict. It does not necessarily mean that you always select that approach to managing conflict, but that it would be your preferred style.
Does this match to how you think of yourself?
Yes, it does match how I view myself in conflict situations. I could give an example of a time when I’ve used each one of the above 5 approaches depending on the situation I was in and my emotional state.
What areas do you think you need to develop?
As a leader, I feel that I need to further develop my “on-the-spot” emotional reaction to a conflict situation. I don’t respond so well at instantly having to problem-solve and prefer to know about a conflict situation prior to meeting with a person. If someone “attacks” me or is aggressive towards me, I tend to go into flight mode and want to avoid the situation. I’m better now at just listening to their diatribe and saying that there’s nothing I can do about it right now because of…and then saying that I will follow it up by… that I’ve heard what they wanted to tell me and I’m sorry that they are so upset. And I am good at following things up – my preferred method is via phone because I can make faces in the background that the other person can’t see and I can hide the fear that may be on my face when I’m communicating something that I may need to say but don’t want to. I’m good at compromising with a situation if I’ve had to time to share my emotions with a colleague or friend, reflect on what’s actually happening and causing the conflict and then having a meeting to resolve the situation to either stand up for what I believe is right, admitting that I’ve done the wrong thing or seeking collaborative advice I required.
Conflict Resolution Questionnaire [Questionnaire]. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://academic.engr.arizona.edu/vjohnson/ConflictManagementQuestionnaire/ConflictManagementQuestionnaire.asp
Kilmann Diagnostics (Publisher). (1974). Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model [Image] Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview-thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument-tki
Thomas, K. W. & Kilmann, R. H. (1974). The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Tuxedo, New York: XICOM, Inc