Conflict styles

Recognising different sources of conflict and how we deal with them.

There are many reasons why conflict arises for example:

In many teams at one point or another there will be some conflict. In teams where you deliberately bring in diverse perspectives and disciplines, there is perhaps more chance for differences. Therefore managing difference and managing conflict will be important.

People have different ways of approaching conflict. The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) uses five conflict styles to describe how people act in conflict situations:

TKI conflict styles

Two basic dimensions of behavior define five different modes for responding to conflict

While we might be able to use other conflict styles, each person’s personality means they tend to be most comfortable with one or two. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, and is appropriate in different circumstances. The authors of the TKI Take the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument | Improve How You Resolve Conflict describes these styles in more detail.

The value of using this tool is that once people in the team are aware of their own conflict style, and have learned about other styles, they can make a conscious choice about which conflict style is most effective and appropriate in the given situation.

The results of this analysis can pave the way to safely open up the discussion about conflict, reveal emerging patterns, and question the current displayed conflict behaviour.

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