Conflict Management Styles
There are many ways to respond to a conflict. In order to better deal with conflicts, a person can learn how to choose the most effective response based on: Importance of the relationship with the other side(s) of the conflict, the importance of the issue in question, the level of hostility between the parties, time, place, authority, power, the ability to negotiate, available resources and level of trust.
In any situation where we encounter a conflict, we can choose the most appropriate conflict management style for achieving our goals and resolving the conflict. It depends on two things – (1) the ability to identify the beginning of the conflict and analyze its characteristics to pick the best management style and (2) develop awareness of the ways we manage conflicts and develop the ability to overcome it by using a different style.
The following assessment is designed to help you identify your personal conflict management style(s). Please dedicate 10-15 minutes to complete the assessment. The assessment consists of pairs of sentences to describe possible responses to a conflict.
Below are pairs of sentences. You should choose a sentence that most closely reflects your reactions to conflict situations. In some cases, both “A” and “B” may not seem appropriate. If so, still try to pick the response that most closely reflects your reaction.
You will learn the most about your personal style if you think about a particular relationship (with a child, partner, family member, work colleague, etc.) when answering each question. This will ensure that your answers are based on your real life experiences. Since you may respond to a conflict at work differently than to a conflict at home, you may want to take the assessment several times to learn about your conflict management style in different contexts.
Avoidance can be expressed by the side that ignores the conflict, postpones addressing the conflict to another time, pretends the conflict does not exist in the hope that the conflict will disappear without the need for further action, denies or hides his true feelings or withdraws from a threatening situation. A party refrains from entering a dispute when:
- The issue of the conflict is not important to him/her.
- The relationships are not important.
- Lack of power or authority.
- Fearful of how the other side will react (anger, sadness)
- Concerned about the consequences (for example, damage to relationship)
Remember: People who avoid conflict never get their needs met. Avoiding a problem does not solve it. But this may be the best option if you are afraid of confrontation or are powerless in a given situation.
Competitiveness/Control – A party seeks to persuade or force the other party to accept its solution to the dispute, “do it my way” and give no regard for what is important to the other party or the relationship between them. A party may persuade or compel another party when:
- Speaking of an emergency that requires an immediate response.
- An issue is not open to negotiation (breaking the law, violence)
- The other party has more power or authority.
- The issue is very important to the other side or the other side has more knowledge about it.
- Concern by a side that if he/she changes positions, it will be seen as weakness in the eyes of the other side.
Remember: People who force the other side to act according to their will may hurt their relationship with the other side.
Concession/Adaptation – The opposite of competition. In this case, a party decides to give up its goals in the dispute in for the good of the relationship with the other party. A person may opt to concede when:
- The issue of the conflict is not important to the party.
- The relationship is very important, more than the issue of the conflict.
- Lack of power or authority.
- The issue is very important for the other party.
- The other party has more knowledge about the issue.
- One party does not want to disappoint or upset the other party.
Remember: People that always concede/adapt never get their needs met.
Cooperation occurs between the parties in order to reach a common solution and achieve mutual benefit. This means that each side receives more than half the cake. Here the parties work together to reach a solution that benefits both and give the maximum response to the needs of both parties. Parties may choose to cooperate when:
- The relationship is important to both sides.
- The Issue is important to both sides and is open to negotiation.
- There is mutual trust and respect.
- The parties involved are willing to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution.
- The conflict does not revolve around non-negotiable issues (breaking the law, violence, etc.)
- The parties are open to seeing the other side’s point of view and taking responsibility for their place in the conflict.
Remember: Collaboration is not a concession but allows for maximum gain (enlarging the cake) while maintaining / strengthening the relationship.
Compromise – The parties reach a solution by dividing the resources that exist between them, by making mutual concessions, etc. The compromise is between “competitiveness” and “concession.” Each side gets a share of what it feels it deserves. The treatment the party gives to the conflict is more direct than avoidant, but less comprehensive and in-depth than through “cooperation.” A party may reach a compromise when:
- There are limited resources that need to be divided between the parties.
- There is room for some concession.
- There is a degree of trust between the parties.
- The benefits of reaching a compromise outweigh the possibility of not reaching an agreement at all.
Remember: it is not always necessary to compromise in order to achieve the maximum solution for both parties in the dispute.
Please Select one answer at each sentence.
נלקח מתוך: “Conflict Resolution Workshop” – Developed by: Judicial Process Commission Conciliation Task force; Rochester, NY (September 1998) מוצע לשימוש ברוח השכנת השלום