Conflict can arise when the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. If you find yourself in a conflict situation it can be difficult to find the best way forward. Your options are dependent on the extent to which you satisfy your own concerns or those of the other person.
The Thomas-Kilmann Inventory (TKI) identifies five possible ways to respond to a conflict situation.
Competing can mean standing up for your rights, defending a position you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.
- It is a power-oriented mode.
- The individual pursues his or her own concerns at the other person’s expense
They use whatever power is appropriate to win his or her position.
Collaborating can mean exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s viewpoint, resolving a situation that would otherwise lead to competing for resources, or trying to find a creative solution.
- The individual tries to work with the other person to find a solution that fully satisfies the concerns of both.
- It involves digging into an issue to identify the underlying concerns of the two individuals and to find an alternative that meets both sets of concerns.
Compromising might mean splitting the difference, seeking concessions, or finding a quick middle-ground position.
- The objective is to find a quick, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties.
- Compromising falls on a middle ground between competing and accommodating, giving up more than competing but less than accommodating.
- It tackles an issue more directly than avoiding but doesn’t explore it in as much depth as collaborating.
Avoiding might mean diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from the situation.
- The individual does not immediately pursue his or her own concerns or those of the other person.
- The conflict is simply not addressed.
Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another’s point of view.
- The individual neglects his or her own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person
- With accommodating there is a degree of self-sacrifice involved.