How do you behave in a conflict situation?

How do you behave in a conflict situation?

Imagine that you’re having a disagreement with someone, things get heated, your emotions kick in, and you react. How do you react, and how does that reaction affect you and the other person?

Naturally your reaction will be different in different situations.

When your partner or kids upset you, your reaction may be very different to when your boss upsets you. If you’re in a good mood or bad mood when something happens, your reaction may be very different as well.

For many of us we have a style or common response that comes more naturally to us.

Sometimes we just let that automatic response go on the path it wants, and other times we stop it if we know that it’s not appropriate in the situation.

The way we respond and the reasons for it are complex. There are numerous theories and models trying to explain it.

One is the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which was developed by Ken Thomas, PhD and Ralph Kilmann, PhD, both professors of management at the University of Pittsburgh. It was inspired by the Managerial Grid Model of Blake and Mouton.

It looks at five common styles of responding in conflict situations, and plots them on an axis of assertiveness and cooperativeness. This tool is used extensively in the business world to help executives improve their negotiation skills. It is very relevant in the every – day world as well.

Have a look at the chart and explanations of the modalities below, and think about yourself. Obviously you’ll operate in all the areas at different times. But which one is the most comfortable for you? The one that you naturally tend to adopt.

The vertical axis depicts low assertiveness at the bottom to high assertiveness at the top.

The horizontal axis shows low co-operativeness on the left to high co-operativeness on the right.

Thomas Kilmann Instrument Conflict Model


You need to win the argument.

Is this just the desire to win, or are you standing up for your rights?


You forego your own needs to satisfy the other person.

When you give in, does it feel good or do you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of?


It’s between competing and accommodating. You both give up something and both get something.

Do you walk away feeling satisfied with the result, or bearing a grudge that you’ve been taken advantage of.


You decide not to deal with the issue, so you either ignore it or put it off to another time.

Was this a smart thing to do or were you just running away from dealing with it?


You work together to find a way to satisfy all of the needs you both have.

Was this because it was the right thing to do, or did you just give in too easily?

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer.

Overuse and underuse, and inappropriate use, is what you need to be thinking about.

It’s important to understand the impact of the style you adopt in each situation on you, the other person, and what the outcome might be.

And remember, the other person will adopt a style as well.

Depennino on what you and they do, this may make it easier or harder to come to a resolution.

What outcome are you looking for?

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]
By |2018-05-11T21:39:59+00:00May 11th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

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