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The Five Conflict Styles

Conflict Management

Conflict Styles

Managing conflict is a skill that must be developed. Thomas and Killman postulated that there are five basic styles for handling conflict: competing, avoiding, compromising, collaborating, and accommodating. Each of these styles differs in the relative amount of assertiveness and cooperation used to handle the conflict. Assertiveness is defined as the degree to which a person attempts to satisfy his or her own concerns. Cooperativeness is defined as the degree to which a person attempts to satisfy the concerns of another person. The style a person uses is usually based upon skill level (Thomas and Killman). Each of the five styles is situation specific in its use. However, lack of training in negotiation and conflict resolution can result in over and under use of certain styles.

Conflict management requires the ability to look at a situation and choose the most effective conflict style to settle the conflict. Most people use one or two conflict styles preferentially. When a person tends to use their two preferred styles, they become overused and unwanted situations arise where certain conflicts are not resolved effectively. After taking the Thomas Killman Conflict Mode Inventory you should have a better ability to assess when to use each style appropriately.