Start new profession
Strategies of conflict behavior
Learn how to become OCI certifed personal trainer and start new career
Strategies of conflict behavior
In real life, it can be difficult to identify the true cause of the conflict and to find the right way to resolve it. Style of behavior in a given conflict depends on your goals and the current situation.

K. W Thomas and R.H. Kilmann have developed a strategy of behavior in conflict situations (Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument). They distinguish five basic modes of behavior in conflict. Let us examine these modes and the situations in which it is advantageous to use a particular mode.
This mode is most characteristic of behavior in conflict situations. The essence of this mode is the desire to win, by imposing one's own conditions upon the partner, to satisfy one's own interests, while ignoring the interests of the other party. This mode of behavior is usable by a person who has a strong will, sufficient authority and power.

It should be used:

If you are convinced that you are able to resolve the problem, as the outcome of the conflict is very important for you;

If you have enough power and authority, and it seems obvious to you that your proposed solution is the best;

If you feel that you have no choice and you have nothing to lose;

If you need to take an unpopular decision, and you have enough authority to make this choice;

If you interact with subordinates, who prefer an authoritarian style.

However, it must be remembered that this strategy rarely leads to long-term results. There is a high probability that the losing party would not support or would even sabotage the decision taken against their will. This mode should not be used often, as it can destroy relationships, cause reciprocal opposition with unpredictable results, and it requires a lot of emotional resources. Don't try to stick to that mode of behavior unless you possess enough power and undeniable arguments to prove your point of view.
This is the most difficult and the most effective mode of behavior in conflict resolution. Its objective is to find the optimal mutually acceptable agreement. The essence of this style is that the parties to the conflict are actively trying to find the solution, fundamentally and persistently defending their interests but, at the same time, trying to openly discuss the interests of both sides. This approach leads to success in business and personal life. This strategy as much as possible satisfies the interests of both sides and contributes to the improvement of relations, completely eliminating the conflict.

It's worth noting that the implementation of this strategy is not always possible in practice, and often requires more time and emotional resources, thereby reducing the value of the results.

This mode should be used:

If each of the approaches to the issue is important and does not allow for compromise solutions, but there is still an undeniable need to find a common solution;

The main goal – gaining the joint cooperating experience; parties can listen to each other and explain the essence of their interests;

There are long-lasting, durable and interdependent relationships with the conflict party;

It is necessary to integrate perspectives and increase personal involvement of employees in the work.
The objective of this mode – to find the minimum acceptable result for both sides. The essence of this style is that the parties to the conflict are trying to find options for reconciliation, paying attention to the interests of both sides, making concessions and seek to address the needs of all. This strategy is close to cooperation strategies, but is carried out on a more superficial level. This strategy is useful in the event that the interests of the parties are important for them, and mutual concessions are not critical. In cases where both sides win, they are more likely to follow the decisions, as they suit them, and they took part in resolving the conflict.

When using this strategy, one should take into account one's own ability to explain their solution, to listen to the other side, to restrain one's own emotions. Lack of any of these factors makes this behavior mode inefficient. In addition, it usually takes more time and resources, and can lead to a new conflict, as each side believes that for their part they sacrificed more. It is worth noting that if a compromise was reached without a thorough analysis of other possible solutions, it can be, by far, not the most optimal outcome of a conflict situation.

Compromising mode should be used:

If the both parties possess equally grounded arguments and equal power;

Granting the desire of either party is not of crucial importance for it;

Temporary solution is possible, as there's no time to look for other, or other approaches to the problem proven inefficient;

Compromising will allow to keep something, rather than losing everything.
This strategy takes place if the conflict does not affect the direct interests of the parties, or the emerged problem is not so important. The purpose of this strategy – a natural resolution of the problem. The essence of this strategy is to abandon the discussion of interests and the search for solutions to problems. This style can be used when one of the parties has a lot of power or feels itself wrong, and believes that there is no significant scope for further contacts, or where the party has to deal with a conflicting personality.

Avoiding mode can be used:

If you think the source of controversy is trivial and insignificant compared to other more important tasks;

if you know that you can not or do not want to address the issue to your advantage;

If you have little power to solve the problem in a desirable way;

If you want to gain time to study the situation and get more information before making any decision;

If you believe that solving the problem immediately is dangerous, as tampering with it and open discussion on the conflict can only worsen the situation;

If the subordinates can resolve the conflict by themselves;

If resolution of the problem may impair your health;

When the conflict involves people that are difficult to communicate with – bullies, complainers, whiners, etc.

This strategy is not an escape from problems or evasion from responsibility. The problem may resolve itself, or you can solve it in a more appropriate time, or the current relationships are not so important to you.
The objective in this mode – reaching an agreement for the sake of preserving relations in the future. Its essence is that you are looking for a solution that satisfies your partner, suppressing your own interests. Yet you do not give up your own interests, but simply leave them for a more opportune time, for example, when your opponent will be more inclined to concede. This strategy is advisable when you are giving in on issues non-critical for yourself, but important for the other, in order to obtain improvement of relations.

This mode should be used:

if the most important task - the restoration of peace and stability rather than conflict resolution;

if the subject of disagreement is not important to you, or you do not particularly care about the incident;

If you believe it's better to maintain good relations with other people than to defend your own point of view;

If you know that truth will be on your side;

If you feel that you have enough power, or a chance to win.

It is impossible to name the best one among the above strategies of conflict behavior. It is a good idea to learn using each of them, focusing on the specific circumstances.
Charting the conflict
H. Cornelius and S. Feyer developed the conflict chart for a successful resolution of the conflict. With its help you can define the strategy, separate the main stages and means for resolution of conflict situation.

First step is to define the following:

Conflict nature in general terms (for example, in a conflict arising because of the volume of work performed, you should draw a diagram of load distribution);

True reason for a conflict (often hard to achieve);

Active conflict participants (individuals, teams, departments or organizations);

Genuine needs and concerns of each of the main parties to the conflict, as they are the basis of almost every conflict;

Interpersonal relationships between those involved in the conflict, that existed before the conflict;

Attitude to the conflict of the parties not involved in it, but having interest in the positive resolution.

Specialists believe that such charting would allow to:

1) restrict the discussion to certain formal framework that will greatly help to avoid excessive displays of emotion, since in the very process of charting, the human mind requires a shift from emotion to reason and thinking;

2) create an opportunity to discuss problems, to let people express their requirements and desires;

3) understand both your own point of view and the point of view of others;

4) create an atmosphere of empathy, that is, capability to see the problem through the eyes of others, and to recognize the opinions of people who previously thought that they were not understood;

5) select the most appropriate ways to resolve the conflict.

However, before proceeding to resolving the conflict, try to answer the following questions:
* do you want a favorable outcome;
* what needs to be done to better control your emotions;
* how would you feel in place of the conflicting parties;
* do you need a mediator to resolve the conflict;
* what would be the atmosphere (the situation) in which people could open up better, find common ground and develop solutions.
Made on