Each of us have patterns that emerge as we engage in conflict. These are our conflict management styles (CMS). Each of the five styles are suited best for specific situations. You, like me, probably don’t always use the optimal CMS for a given situation, which results in disruptive conflict. Matching the right CMS to the situation stimulates constructive conflict. Masters at conflict management are able to consistently make the right match. I call that skill, Situational Conflict Management.
Which style do you usually use?
Collaboration is sometimes called cooperative problem solving. When collaborating, one has a high concern for self and a high concern for others. A collaborative conflict management style enables people to work together so everyone wins. It involves redefining the problem at hand, in order to find a solution that will meet each individual’s interests.
Competition involves a high concern for self and a low concern for others. Choosing a competitive conflict management style means a person is putting his or her own interests before anyone else’s. This produces a “Win-Lose” situation and is a disruptive style of conflict management. Individuals can sometimes be so committed to getting what they want, they end up ruining friendships and work relationships in the process.
A compromise involves a medium concern for self and a medium concern for others. Individuals choose this style of conflict management when it is important to satisfy some of their interests, but not all of them. They are likely to “split the difference,” or agree, “Something is better than nothing.” With a compromise, everyone wins something but everyone loses something as well.
Individuals who choose avoidance do not get involved in conflict. They have a low concern for self and a low concern for others. This is the most frequently used style for dealing with conflict, which says, “You decide and leave me out of it.” It’s often used as a conflict management style until the problem can’t be ignored any longer.
Accommodation is when one has a low concern for self and a high concern for others. People who choose accommodation as a conflict management style put their interests last and let others have what they want. These individuals believe that a good relationship is the most important aspect, and that a good relationship requires accommodation.
Each conflict management style has its own strengths and weaknesses. Which type of conflict management style do you use most?
For a simple personal assessment, or to learn more about Situational Conflict Management, please contact Lighthouse Leadership.