Managing conflict at work (or home) requires skill - correct that - skills. Often we use one or two of these conflict resolution techniques and our limited approach offers varying degrees of success or, most likely, causes us problems. Our conflict toolkit should have five tools in it that we are comfortable using and that are not overused. Before developing these tools we need to establish a positive view of conflict.
Merriam-Webster online defines conflict as a "fight" and this is the definition that can create problems for us. When we hear the word conflict we often think "war" "battle" "dread", but conflict has a positive side. The Webster definition preferred for defining conflict is a "mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands". This label for conflict allows us to see the opportunity with others when working with differences. The example I like to use, for instance, follows: If every time we see Sally we think, "Here she comes ready to pick a fight." we're armed and ready for battle when Sally might be coming to ask us if we want ice cream.
In case you would like to improve your use of the conflict management tools, below is a list of each mode as defined by the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI):
Competing - advocating for our own needs and/or the wishes of your company. This requires first KNOWING our needs and then ASKING for them.
Collaborating - working out a decision that is mutually beneficial to both your needs and that of the other person. This skill is the most difficult and requires knowing what we want and WHY we want it (our end game) and what the other person wants and why they want it.
Compromising - a quick fix to end conflict requiring both parties to give up something.
Avoiding - walking away when the battle is not worth it. This tool gives us the ability to prioritize our needs and wants and address the most important issues, letting the lessor items fall off the list.
Accommodating - knowing and meeting the needs of others.
To adequately use each skill (and to refrain from overuse) it is important to establish how much you currently use each skill. CPP, Inc. sells this assessment to certain professional groups. This assessment is provided to each client at Happy Brain Counseling, L.L.C. Go To The Website