Any time you are working with or coordinating a group of people, conflict are bound to arise, and this is when solid conflict management approaches will prove to be beneficial to all concerned parties. Many factors can breed conflict, including a clash of goals or set priorities, colliding personalities, methods and styles of communication, a fight over resources, and differing values. The bottom line is that when you are dealing with a group of people, conflict will occur, and as a leader you will need to incorporate a conflict management approach to alleviate the situation.
The most common conflict management approaches are based on the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which entails two primary modes—cooperativeness and assertiveness—and provides five main strategies for conflict management.
One contact management approach is accommodation. To use this strategy, one must practice a high level of cooperation. This approach might not jive with your own objective and goals, but it can come in handy if another party has a superior solution and more expertise than you in a particular realm. This style can also do a lot to better future relationships with concerned parties.
You might want to avoid an issue if you believe it is of minimal importance, or if you believe that the cost of pursuing it is simply too high. If you are dealing with an extremely emotional issue or situation, you might want to choose this conflict management approach. While avoidance is not a good strategy to implement over a long period of time, issues can sometimes resolve themselves, and creating some space can also lessen the conflict.
This is an excellent conflict management approach if your goal is to create a “win-win” situation. When you use this strategy, you and the other concerned party will join forces, rather than battle each other, in order to reach your goals. If you use this approach, you must be open to the ideas of all involved, and you also must display a heightened trust level. It can be time consuming for a group of people to reach a consensus, but the payoff can make it worthwhile.
Assertiveness is the key to this “win-lose” approach to conflict management. With this strategy you must focus on reaching your goals without considering other parties involved. Though this strategy is egocentric, it might be the approach to use if your time is limited or you are in an emergency situation.
Compromise is considered to be a “lose-lose” conflict management approach in which neither party gets what they want. Though compromise is a way to avoid conflict, you might want to use it if you believe that the goals of both parties lack importance. Compromise can also come in handy if you are simply seeking a temporary solution to a problem.
Determining Which of the Conflict Management Approaches to Use
The conflict management approach that you choose to use is usually dependent on the situation at hand. Once you assess the situation, the parties involved, and the goals and achievements of each party, the conflict management approach to use will become more apparent. Keep in mind that when choosing an approach flexibility can go a long way.