In today’s world of uncertainty, there are a few things that can still be counted on. One of these things is conflict. No matter how hard one tries to make everything perfect and everyone happy, there are still instances when conflict is going to creep in. Conflicts are common in the work arena due to people of different temperaments trying to agree on one position. Conflict can also be common in family life and social situations. It can range from something as simple as what restaurant to eat at to something as important as how children are to be raised. For the purposes of this particular assessment, I chose to focus my answers primarily from the viewpoint of the work arena.
Upon completing the Conflict Management Style survey, I discovered that my primary conflict management style fell under the title of accommodator. The score I received for this style was quite a bit higher than the score for my secondary conflict style, compromiser. By far, my lowest score and least preferred conflict management style was that of controller. Due to my general temperament, I was not surprised by my results. I have always been the type to sacrifice in the name of harmony, and no one could ever accuse me of being controlling. All in all, I was impressed by the accuracy of the survey.
The accommodating style of conflict is said to be “unassertive and cooperative” (Hall, 1969). It puts the needs of other people above the needs of self, almost to the point of being “self sacrificial” (Hall, 1969). An accommodating style is best used in conflict situations when the issue at hand is not as important as maintaining a good working relationship with the “other party” (Williams, 2007). It is also useful when one is trying to prove themselves to be reasonable, in “developing performance,” and when one is simply trying to “keep the peace” (Burrell, 2001).
Accommodation can also be important in conflict situations to “minimize losses when (you) are being outmatched or losing” (Hamilton, 2002). Overall, being accommodating can be the difference between keeping or losing a work partner or a project.
While the accommodating style has its benefits, it can also be dysfunctional. Accommodation requires giving in to another person’s wants, and this may lead to the accommodating person being taken advantage of (Hamilton, 2002). If a competitor knows that one wants to keep things peaceful and is willing to give on their side to keep a customer, the competitor may make unreasonable demands that the accommodator will feel they must accept. Also, giving in to demands is not always the “productive” thing to do (Hamilton, 2002). If one is always giving in, their projects are bound to lose a lot of ground, and perhaps even fail (Burrell, 2001).
Accommodators often have their own “suggestions” and “influence” overlooked, and if the accommodating style is used too often, the accommodator remains helpful and giving, but begins to “hold a grudge” (Burrell, 2001) A person can only give in so often before they feel that they are being used.
As mentioned before, my lowest score was in the area of the controlling style. A controller is the exact opposite of an accommodator. However, controllers have their place in the work arena. Controllers have only one goal in mind, and that is to win (Burrell, 2001). They stress their agenda over everyone else’s (Burrell, 2001). Situations where this attribute can be useful are when “quick action” must be taken, when “unpopular decisions” must be made, and when one needs to protect themselves from an opponent that is looking to take advantage of a situation (Burrell, 2001). My next lowest score was in the area of avoidance.
Even though avoidance does not sound like a good attribute, it is actually useful in some situations. Some examples of said situations would be when it is necessary to “buy time” on an issue, ignore less important issues that come from a larger “core” issue, or know when to “back off” and let another person take care of an important issue (Burrell, 2001). My middle score was under the title of collaboration. According to the conflict management style assessment, a collaborator is the best style for any type of conflict (Hall, 1969). This style is also perfect for a “team environment” (Burrell, 2001). Collaborators want a “win/win” outcome to whatever they do (Burrell, 2001). They “listen effectively,” are confrontational but “non threatening,” and know how to delegate authority (Burrell, 2001).
Finally, my second highest score was labeled as compromiser. The goal of a compromiser is to find a “middle ground” (Burrell, 2001). They expect everyone, including themselves, to give up a little for the common good (Burrell, 2001). The compromiser is especially useful in situations where both sides are equally powerful and equally at odds, and can often come up with “temporary” and “quick” solutions to appease opposing sides (Burrell, 2001). They are good at coming up with fair solutions to conflicts, and often have the ability to make sure that both sides of the issue are assigned fair “value” (Burrell, 2001).
In order to learn to effectively use conflict styles that do not fall under my preferred choice, I must make some changes in how I look at conflict. An accommodating style is good for keeping things friendly, but sometimes one cannot afford to be friendly in negotiations. First, I must realize that my own side has merit, and be willing to compromise instead of giving up all my ideas. Secondly, I must be willing to confront others on important issues, but still give merit to their side.
Confrontation is a necessary skill sometimes, and I need to use it instead of always backing down. I also need to learn when to avoid conflict. Conflict often upsets me, but instead of passing the situation to another person, I try to get through it by letting the other person get their way. Some people are much better at conflict than I am, and I need to let them handle the tough situations.
Finally, I need to learn that there are situations in which I must take control. A definite dysfunction in the accommodation style is the belief that people will not like you if you flatly insist on things being done a certain way. I must try to remember that if the situation is important enough, I must speak my mind and not take no for an answer, and if people do not like it, they will have to get over it. All these changes will be hard to make, but if I force myself into situations that cannot be taken care of by accommodation, I feel that I will eventually pick up the positive traits of the four other styles of conflict management.
Burrell, B. (2001). The five conflict styles.
Conflict Management Style Survey – http://cub.wsu.edu/lead/library/resources/Conflict%20Resolution/Conflict- Management%20Style.pdfHall, J. (1969). Conflict management survey: a survey of one’s characteristic reaction to and handling of between himself and others. The Woodlands, Texas: Telemetrics International. http://www.afc-ispi.org/Repository/Conflict- Management%20survey.pdf
Hamilton, K. (2002). What’s your conflict management style. http://webhome.idirect.com/~kehamilt/ipsyconstyle.html