Conflict is a part of everyday life. Learning how to manage it in a healthy way can help strengthen your relationships both personally and professionally. Keep reading to learn 5 styles of conflict management and some tips on how you can resolve conflict in your life.
There are 5 different conflict styles. Think of your “style” as your go-to reaction when conflict arises. Typically, people use one or two of these consistently. These are important to know because different situations call for different styles. If you learn to expand the way you handle conflict, you can create stronger relationship and leadership skills.
Collaborating Style – This is a win-win style of conflict management where both parties discuss the conflict, negotiate what is most important, and leave satisfied. This management style is the most successful long term but is the most time consuming to resolve.
For example: You and a colleague co-manage a restaurant and are hiring new staff. You think candidate A will be a better fit while they think candidate B is a better fit. You both decide to sit down and talk through what you are looking for in a candidate and the pros and cons of each one. You mutually decide it would be better to have both on staff, so you hire both.
Competing Style – The goal of this style is to resolve conflict as quickly as possible. Most of the time this is done by one party not backing down causing the other party to give in. This style is not recommended in most situations as it rarely solves any issues and leads to resentment and people feeling unheard.
For example: You are working with your boss on a project. You notice a more efficient way to complete it so you tell your boss. He just tells you to do it his way and moves on.
Avoiding Style – This is when people avoid the conflict all together. While this can be beneficial for short term conflict in allowing for space and rethinking of the situation, it often leads to resentment and greater conflict if left unresolved.
For example: You get a voicemail from an upset customer wanting you to call them back about overcharging them. Not calling them back or ignoring their calls would be avoiding the conflict.
Accommodating Style– This is when one party of the conflict puts the other parties needs before their own.
For example: You and a friend want to go out to eat and they want to order Italian food. You would rather get BBQ but Italian is a good option, so you decide to go with your friends choice. You put your preference aside and accommodate for your friend.
Compromising Style– This is when both parties in conflict have to give up some of their desires in order to come to a prompt resolution. Because both people have to give something up, using this style constantly can leave yourself and others feeling like they lost a lot and might not be willing to compromise down the road.
For example: You and your business partner are trying to figure out how to spend the extra money you made in sales. You want to spend it all on advertisement and marketing, they want to put it towards increasing inventory. You compromise and designate half of it to advertisement and the other half to inventory.
Don’t Fear Conflict
Conflict is typically seen as a negative thing because people are uncomfortable with it. It can also cause hurt and stress. However, conflict is a part of life. It is a sign that something needs to change and can actually lead to growth so try to change the way you think about conflict.
Use Neutral Language
It’s easy to react emotionally when conflict arises but using neutral language is important because it helps keep the situation from escalating. Neutral language is using words that don’t attack the other person. For example, rather than saying “you are always late to work” you can say something like “How can we work together to avoid tardiness?”
It is also good to avoid the word “you” when possible. Instead focus on how the conflict affected you. For example, rather than saying “You made me mad when you didn’t invite me to the movie, instead say something like “It upset me when I was not invited to the movie.”
Being intentional about listening to the other side of the conflict is important in resolving it. Conflict resolution is about hearing both sides and coming up with some sort of solution, not yelling at each other until someone gets what they want. Listening to other people’s ideas can help lead to creative solutions. It can also help you understand where the other person is coming from. It also gives you the opportunity to rephrase what they say accurately and utilize the neutral language.
Conflict is not easy but working at improving your conflict management skills can provide more peace in both your work life and your home life.