When it comes up in your organisation how does it tend to be dealt with. A good framework for exploring this is Thomas Kilmann’s model. In Kilmann’s model there are 5 types of response or conflicting handling modes. Like say leadership styles there is no one better or worse response. The situation is a big factor.
So what are the 5 types of response to conflict that you might adopt?
Competing in conflict situations focuses on being highly assertive and low on co-operation. When I think back to my time working in the NHS, this type of behaviour often tended to arise when there were a lot of egos at play and people felt they had to win. Think for example about contract negotiations or even discussions with people who were reluctant to change.
When we are collaborating we tend to be assertive and at the same time co-operative. In this context people are working to find a solution that works for both or all parties. It takes a certain degree of openness to make this work in my experience.
When we avoid we are passive and uncooperative. This can arise when we simply don’t want to deal with something. It might seem attractive at the time but the problem is that the issue rarely goes away.
This is the complete opposite of competing. In this situation one party in effect puts their own needs to one side. One potential downside is that if this becomes your default you can easily become de-motivated and deflated.
When we compromise we tend to find a solution that we can all live with. It shows a willingness to move. The downside of this is that you will be seen as a soft touch.
The Bottom Line: In any situation of conflict we tend to make choices on how we respond. So what’s the dominant type of response in your organisation?
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