Conflict management styles

Conflict is inevitable. No matter how one tries to do or manage things as ideal as possible, and no matter how one seek to deal with other people harmoniously, we can never avoid conflicts. And since it is unavoidable, it is vital for every individual or organization to be knowledgeable in managing and overcoming conflicts. There are different conflict management styles, and understanding how each style works is very important.

Conflict is a situation in which the conditions, practices, or the goals of the different participants are inherently incompatible (Smith, 1996). Conflict has a negative connotation. It usually causes inefficiency and delays productivity, which is disadvantageous. This kind of scenario is evident in individuals and organizations, therefore proper conflict management is very important for survival and growth. Especially when you are part of an organization, it is very important to resolve conflict in the soonest possible time and the most efficient manner.

In a conflict, the incompatibility may be caused by different factors. It may be due to behavioral, aptitude, cognitive, academic, religious, and cultural differences. In view of the fact that conflicts are due to different factors, the approach in solving conflicts may also vary. There are times when the conflict management style of a person contradicts the conflict management style of the organization in which he/she is a part. In cases like this, it is very important to be objective—to know how to deal with conflict in such a way that personal goal or interest will not surface, but the goal of the whole organization itself.

There is no one best way to manage conflicts; it is different for every situation and people. And when conflicts are handled appropriately, the effect may be reversed; instead of conflict being a disadvantage, it can be an opportunity for growth. Sometimes, it is a matter of knowing what exact style is called for in the situation and planning strategically upon it.

There are five conflict management styles which can be used; these are Collaborating: win/win, Compromising: win some/lose some, Accommodating: lose/win, Competing: win/lose, and Avoiding: no winners/no losers. In the organization I work for, the conflict management style which is deemed best is the collaborating style. It is obviously the most ideal scenario wherein both parties can work together and both win over the situation.

Furthermore, in collaboration, the relationship between or among parties will most likely remain in good terms or even better since both are winners. However, no matter how collaboration seems to be perfect, it most often than not, really takes a lot of time and thought before collaboration is achieved. And in cases where there is a delay in solving conflicts, many worse cases can come out. Complications are likely possible. Therefore, no matter how favorable is for the organization, collaboration will not always work. What is mostly used is the compromising style. In this style there is no really ultimate winner, but it benefit both parties to some favorable extent.

The management style in my organization is paralleled with the conflict management style I personally prefer. There is always a greater sense of satisfaction and success when the conflict is resolved in such a way that the conflict will not break the relationship. And although this style is difficult to achieve, it is an opportunity to think of creative solutions.

Collaboration is a good conflict management style, although there are some risks, these risks are worth it when the conflict is resolved. It is also a good practice that both parties are taking into consideration the good of each party. But, in cases that the demand of each party cannot be met and collaboration is not possible, compromising is also the second choice for me. It is somehow easier to both adjust the demands of each party—to meet halfway.

Personally, I would like to manage conflicts without compromising the relationship with the other party because to some extent, that other party is an important stakeholder of my organization. However, the real world of organizational setting will not always give the chance of having a win-win or win some-lose some situation. There are times when you have to do accommodating and competing to manage a conflict. And even if one of the parties loses, it is also a good opportunity. The organization may sometimes have to down other in order to attain its goal, on which part of the goal does not include that of the other. Also, it sometimes helps to stand above others and gain a more tangible success.

The least of the conflict management style is avoiding. Any conflict is ought to be managed. No matter how difficult to manage a conflict can be, with the right competency and mind set, there is no way for it to remain unsolved. Avoiding will not make it go away, but just make it worse. Expect conflict because it is in fact inevitable. What is important is you have the knowledge how to manage it to your advantage.


M Afzalur Rahim  (2000). Managing Conflict in Organizations. Quorum/Greenwood publishing Group

Terrence Wheeler (1995). Choosing A Conflict Management Style. Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management

Basics of Conflict Management Conflict Management