The Five Conflict Management Styles

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According to a 2015 study done by The Health and Occupational Research network approximately twenty-five percent of all work-related stressors are related to interpersonal relationships. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) denotes sixteen main personality types including adventurers, inspectors and masterminds, among others. Each diverse personality type employs one of five conflict management styles. Lack of understanding these personality types can cause unnecessary frustrations. Outlined below are the five main conflict management styles: accommodator, avoider, collaborator, competitor and compromiser.

Accommodator: Accommodators are more inclined to be less assertive and highly cooperative. They prefer to avoid conflict and want to be liked by others. There are many advantages to this conflict management style; however, if not careful this strategy can lead to some undesirable consequences. For instance, accommodators may be perceived as not standing their ground, be taken advantage of, or be left feeling unsatisfied. One of the best ways to manage conflict with an accommodator is to take a little extra time and reflect upon the situation. Try to remain objective and consider talking with a third party to gain a better perspective. Be sure to use this style when the other person is an expert on the topic or when preserving the relationship is crucial.

Avoider: The avoider conflict management style tends to be unassertive and uncooperative. When an individual uses this strategy, they tend to give up personal goals to avoid conflict. It is best used when the disruption outweighs benefits of winning and when the relationship must be maintained. A big shortcoming of this style is that the conflict almost always remains unresolved. Some ways to manage conflict with an avoider are to: take on the role of a competitor, be sure to use “I” terminology, stay aware of tone of voice, avoid blame and know when to walk away. An appropriate time to use this strategy is when you have no chance of winning and the issue is trivial or too costly.

Collaborator:  This conflict management style is both goal and relationship oriented, helping both sides of the conflict receive what they need. Use this strategy when the relationship has high levels of trust and when the conflict itself is a problem. This strategy can take much time and effort, requires high levels of creativity and can sometimes stifle innovation. However, if successful, both parties leave content.

Competitor: This conflict management style tends to be highly assertive and uncooperative. It values individual goals over relationships. Individuals that prefer this strategy tend to be commanding, intimidating and have a need to win. Some advantages of this role are speedy decision making, decisiveness when an unpopular decision needs to be made, or when implementing strategic changes. Disadvantages include a strain on relationships, important concerns may not be voiced and it can breed hostility or resentment. A valuable time to use this strategy is in emergency situations.

Compromiser: This conflict strategy is assertive and highly cooperative. This style tends to be more concerned with the collective goal rather than their own goal. Using this style can help eradicate conflict and sustain relationships. It can also help expedite a resolution and promote a culture of acceptance. However, this strategy may come off as passive-aggressive and tends to lead to messy arguments with the competitive conflict management style. The best way to manage conflict with a compromiser is to explore all outcomes of a conflict and be sure not to become defensive. If using this strategy, BEWARE of it leading to stalemates. The best times to use it are when: a win-win outcome is not possible, the conflict is trivial, there are time constraints or dealing with a trusted individual.

Don’t stress. Make progress at work and maximize interpersonal relationships by employing these five main conflict management strategies.

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