Today’s modern workplace involves navigating flexible work arrangements, virtual offices and your online presence (not to mention more traditional concerns like negotiating a promotion, unique coworker personalities and office politics). One way to get ahead and improve your work environment is to understand different conflict management styles.
“Knowing how you instinctively respond to conflicts, as well as having awareness of your boss and coworkers’ styles, may help how you approach situations and lead to efficient and effective conflict resolution,” explains Dr. Barbara Benoliel, a conflict resolution expert and faculty member at Walden University’s Barbara Solomon School of Social Work and Human Services.
According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument used by human resource professionals around the world, there are five major styles of conflict management. Dr. Benoliel says knowing when and how to use each style can help control conflict and lead to greater workplace satisfaction.
Collaborating. A combination of being assertive and cooperative, collaborators work with others to find a solution that satisfies everyone’s concerns. In this style, both sides can get what they want and negative feelings are minimized. Collaborating works best when the long-term relationship and outcome are important, like when two departments of a company are merging.
Competing. Describes those who are assertive and steadfast in pursing their own interests at the expense of others. Benoliel explains using this style works well when the outcome is more important than the relationship, such as when competing with another company for a new client.
Avoiding. If you try to avoid conflict at all costs, you’re an avoider. This involves being unassertive and diplomatically sidestepping an issue or withdrawing from a threatening situation. Use this when it’s safer to postpone dealing with the situation or the outcome is not a great concern, like a conflict with a coworker about the ethics of using social media on the job.
Accommodating. The opposite of competing, there is an element of self-sacrifice when accommodating to satisfy the other person. While it may seem generous, it can take advantage of less assertive colleagues and cause resentment. This style is best used when the relationship is of more value than the outcome, like agreeing to your manager’s choice of restaurant for lunch.
Compromising. This style aims to find an expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies everyone while maintaining some assertiveness and cooperativeness. It’s best to use when the outcome is not crucial and you are losing time, like when you want are willing to give a little to get a decision made and move on to more important things.
Find more information at www.waldenu.edu/conflict.