Conflict Management Styles: How To Identify Your Style to Enhance Personal Growth

two woman sitting at table with a tablet on it and a cell phone arguing and expressing conflict management styles

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, but how we handle it significantly impacts our personal growth and the overall success of a relationship. Take this quiz to determine which conflict management style you typically use and learn about strategies for managing conflicts more effectively.

Table of Contents

Background

This quiz is a great first step if you want to understand your typical conflict management style better.

Building on two decades of experience as an educator and 13 years as a Chartered Mediator and conflict management coach, I have designed this quiz from the Thomas- Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI).

Presented quickly and comprehensively, you’ll gain powerful insight into handling conflicts and managing difficult conversations!

Identify Your Dominant Conflict Management Style

Asking yourself the following questions helps you identify your dominant conflict management style:

  • Do you usually approach conflicts passively or aggressively?
  • Are you more likely to ignore conflicts or address them head-on?
  • Do you look for win-win solutions, or do you feel that someone must be the winner and someone else must be the loser?

Understanding your typical approach to conflict resolution can help you start the process of developing strategies to address conflicts more effectively.

Take the Conflict Management Styles Quiz

Analyze the Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Style

Once you identify your predominant conflict management style, analyze its advantages and disadvantages.

These questions are great for reflection:

  • Does it help create constructive paths forward in difficult situations?
  • Are there other perspectives or conflicts that have been avoided with this particular approach?
  • Are there areas where a different conflict management style might be more effective?

Analyzing the pros and cons of your typical approach helps you recognize situations in which it might not be the most helpful tool.

This process also provides opportunities for personal growth.

Learn How to Adapt to Different Conflict Styles

Conflict management is a skill that requires practice and adaptation.

Understanding the different conflict management styles helps build successful and effective relationships.

  • Take time to learn about alternative conflict management styles and the numerous ways to apply them in interpersonal relationships.  
  • Practice effective communication skills and open communication to strengthen your ability to constructively address disagreement and explore differences between each other’s perspectives.

With this approach, you will better adjust your conflict management style depending on the situation for positive outcomes.

Explore Strategies for Moving out of Your Comfort Zone and Enhancing Growth

While you may be comfortable using your current conflict management style, it is important to stretch yourself and explore different strategies for dealing with conflict.

Developing alternative approaches helps you to respond to a situation in a more effective way.

Keep an open mind and look for ideas, including those from others, to help you move away from your usual style and reach resolutions more effectively and efficiently.

Develop an Action Plan for Improvement and Growth in Conflict Management Skills

Once you have identified the conflict management style that best suits your needs, creating an action plan for improving your skillset is vital.

Consider setting goals focused on communication techniques and strategies.

Next, define a set of steps you can take and look for opportunities to apply those techniques when dealing with difficult conversations.

Finally, seek out resources and make time for training or educational courses. You never know how these could help you develop better skills for managing conflict.

There is no right or wrong answer to conflict management styles. Each of the five styles has its own benefits and drawbacks.

It’s essential to understand conflict management styles because we use all five!

Our conflict resolution style depends on the relationship, the conflict situation, our experiences, and how we feel at any given moment.

Learn the Five Conflict Management Styles

You’ll get insight into the five different styles with the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Knowing how each conflict style influences difficult conversations helps you choose which style works best.

You’ll discover tips for each style to choose the best approach to specific situations and future conflicts.

Competing Conflict Management Style

Holding your ground is necessary in life. Taking a firm stance is sometimes necessary in conflict situations.

However, when it comes to someone else’s expense, it creates problems.

There are many benefits to using the competing style in conflict situations.

As with other styles, it all depends on the relationship, the issues, and the situation where you would use this style. 

Benefits

  • quick, decisive action under time constraints
  • people know where you stand, and your own views stand out
  • get things done
  • quick decision
  • results-oriented
  • brings energy and passion
  • often inspire others
  • adrenaline rush
  • clear direction
  • tend to get their needs met
  • you and your views stand out
  • can bring out the best in people
  • quick solution

Drawbacks

With the competing style, we often tend to focus on our own goals, views, and solutions, not necessarily the best ones.

Sadly, it is difficult to develop mutual trust in relationships when one or both party uses this style for managing conflict.

This style also discourages others from expressing their opinions; we often get compliance, not commitment. Likely because we tend to focus on our own interests and use of power to achieve desired outcomes.

In the long run, we may create hard feelings and alienate others by focusing difficult conversations on our own concerns first.

Additionally, this style may escalate conflict situations, especially if the other person competes.

The outcome is missing the opportunities to smell the roses and possibly being seen as unable to work within a team.

Tips and Advice

  • First and foremost, slow down, listen, and enjoy the journey.
  • Genuinely seek input with active listening skills and take time to reflect.
  • Remember the common goal and strive to win the war, not the battle.
  • Seeking to reach the best outcome takes time, patience, and respect (self and others).

Collaborative Conflict Management Style

We often hear collaboration is best.

However, collaboration takes an investment of time, effort, and energy and is not helpful in some situations. It is also crucial to recognize collaboration only works when others are willing.

Collaboration has many benefits, but the same goes for other styles. Its success depends on the relationship, situation, and past experiences.

Benefits

  • all sides satisfied
  • ownership from all
  • synergy of ideas
  • everyone is committed
  • fosters a sense of teamwork
  • focuses on individual interests as well as the needs of others
  • empowering
  • transparent process
  • high moral
  • sense of inclusion
  • builds trust

Drawbacks

With the collaborating style, there is often a tendency to get bogged down, and the wheels start spinning.

This style also requires other parties to all willingly engage in the process.

Collaborating is not always possible due to different reasons like limited resources (time, energy, and focus).

Sometimes, one party wants to collaborate, and the other wants to compete or avoid. This is detrimental to the relationships and may even escalate conflict.

Keeping this in mind, collaboration is not always the most optimal solution. Some issues are non-negotiable.

Also, using this style consistently will have negative consequences in relationships where other styles dominate conversations.

Tips and Advice

  • Sometimes you just need to make a decision. Weigh the benefits against the costs and stay focused.
  • It is encouraged to also always have a Plan B in case you get bogged down and the wheels start spinning.
  • Set a time frame for resolution and remain mindful of how taxing this style is on relationships.

Accommodating Conflict Management Style

The accommodating style focuses more on the relationship than the conflict situation.

With the relationship being the most important, accommodation fosters harmony and keeps others happy.

Although this is positive in some cases, there are times when we must rely on one of the other five conflict management strategies to reach an agreement we feel good about.

Benefits

  • builds harmony
  • reduced conflict (at the time)
  • seen as a team player
  • allows progress
  • keeps others happy
  • helps others feel valued
  • nurtures relationships
  • builds goodwill for future
  • people like you
  • avoid unpleasant confrontation
  • high concern for the relationships

Drawbacks

With the accommodating style, there is often a tendency to give up our own principles or values because of the value of the relationship.

In situations where we are seen as expected by others to give in or seen as pushovers, we start to foster resentment and develop negative emotions about our decisions or relationships.

Valuable ideas and perspectives are not voiced, and we may feel manipulated or unsatisfied.

Additionally, by always accommodating, people don’t know whether to believe us when we agree; over time, we may be seen as weak.

The worst part is we tend to sacrifice our own needs and eventually start to wonder if the relationship is worth the time, energy, and focus.

Tips and Advice

  • Know your values and limits and set boundaries.
  • Ensure you are accommodating out of choice and not fear or habit.
  • Speak up, speak out. Your opinion matters!
  • When you do choose to use this style, accommodate consciously and strategically.

Avoiding Conflict Management Style

The avoiding style focuses more on the individual needs than the relationship or the conflict situation.

We tend to avoid when we feel threatened or fear losing something valuable.

Although this is positive in some cases, there are times when we must rely on one of the other five styles to engage and reach an agreement we feel good about.

Benefits

  • allows things to cool off
  • keeps the peace
  • problems may go away
  • gives time to assess
  • may be safer (physically or professionally)
  • won’t be accountable
  • delays stress
  • not drawn into other’s problems
  • may not be your issue
  • energy is spent on other things
  • no feeling unprepared

Drawbacks

It’s far too easy for the avoiding style to become a habit. With this style, there is a low concern for relationships and issues.

Avoidance behaviors become more entrenched, and silence condones the status quo.

Sometimes, the problems escalate and often lead to dysfunction and low morale.

It’s crucial to remember when we avoid, the issues and negativity go underground. They are buried but not dead!

The result is carrying around unresolved issues causing emotional wear and tear.

Using this style gives up direct influence over the issues and the resolution. Giving power away.

Tips and Advice

  • Look for the benefits of addressing the issues rather than responding out of fear.
  • Be honest with yourself about the costs of avoiding.
  • Pick battles, face your fears, get involved, and be heard.
  • Don’t stick your head in the sand. Your opinion matters!

Compromising Conflict Management Style

The ​compromising style ​tends to be fair. Fairness means everyone gets an equal share of the pie.

Focusing on fairness means people do not always get everything they want in a resolution. ​

Although this is positive for relationships in some cases, there are times when we must rely on one of the other five styles to engage and reach an agreement we feel good about.

Benefits

  • both sides are partly happy
  • each person is involved
  • breaks stalemate
  • ​quicker decisions
  • tends to be fair
  • shows a willingness to resolve
  • ​feelings of achievement
  • got a deal done
  • gets solution

Drawbacks

​With the compromising conflict management style, no one gets all they want in a resolution.

Over time people may focus on what they have given up rather than the resolution. This allows resentment to creep in, which may damage relationships.

This style may result in people using inflated demands and bargaining chips during discussions. It may also result in a temporary, band-aid solution to reach a quick agreement.

Using this style consistently for all situations runs the risk of success and ideas being diluted without meaningful results. ​​

Tips and Advice

  • Know your priorities and what values are non-negotiable.
  • Always maintain your integrity and ensure you can live with the outcome.
  • It’s important to focus on the most important aspects of the conflict situation and think outside of the box to seek creative options.
  • Ask yourself if you suggest the solution because you think it’s best or the easiest.
  • Always explore win-win options before reverting to compromise.

Summary

This Conflict Management Style Quiz helps identify creative solutions best suited to the situation.

Conflict resolution often requires looking at different perspectives, and understanding what styles and approaches work best will make a huge difference in finding successful outcomes.

With the right knowledge and approach, parties involved in any conflict have the potential to reach an agreement and move forward.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Suzanne

We all have unlimited potential.

Hi! I’m Suzanne and welcome to my blog. For more than two decades of teaching, writing, and public speaking, I’ve been inspiring children, teens, and adults to cultivate their potential.

With proven experience and being a published author of conflict management and children’s books, you’ll find practical strategies for personal development.

Most importantly, you’ll discover life lessons for living a fulfilled life.

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