Conflict is a part of our daily lives. Simply defined, conflict is a disagreement. Conflict occurs internally, interpersonally, between groups, and even within organizations. Since we all deal with conflict on some level, it is important to understand how we resolve conflict. This is not just a blog about all the different conflict management styles. This blog will specifically discuss my personal approach to conflict and how to resolve it.
Given that one of the CICS program’s responsibilities is to produce smart and adaptive people to assume leadership roles in the industry, it is important for all students to be capable of utilizing each style. Over the past 12 years of working in social services, with several years of that being in a leadership role, I have noticed that I do not have just 1 way of resolving every conflict. I have to be able to adapt to the situation and to the person. I will discuss these styles briefly and how I have applied them in my life.
One style is avoidance. Little courage is required and when used incorrectly, no consideration for the other person is present. This strategy should be used sparingly and for very specific situations. I use this strategy when the person I’m interacting with is emotionally charged and unable to see reason. This strategy can also be effective when someone may be trying to bait you into an argument. Avoidance is not an effective way to manage a conflict long term.
Another style is accommodating. In this style, one person completely gives in to the other person’s point of view. This style is helpful when someone else has the more effective or appropriate idea. I use this strategy when someone’s view is better than my own. In many scenarios, giving in can lead to making peace. Unfortunately, it can also lead to feelings of resentment as you may feel that your idea wasn’t heard or even considered.
Competing, also known as the “win-lose” approach, is when you do anything to ensure you win the battle. This style is helpful when decisive, quick action is needed. I use this approach when dealing with emergency situations or when others are looking for me to be the leader. Again, this helps with short term rewards, but can be detrimental to relationships or to the company if it is used all the time.
We see the first step towards long term conflict resolution when we compromise. Compromising requires both sides to give a little for the greater good of the situation. I use this approach when both sides are stuck. This will yield a “lose-lose” outcome, with both sides not fully getting everything they want but it allows for some ideas to be kept.
Collaboration is the best approach to use when dealing with conflict because of the short and long-term rewards. Collaboration invokes discussion, idea sharing, and creative thinking to resolve all the issues without any concessions on either side. This is my preferred style of managing conflict but I will use other styles if it isn’t effective.
– Rashad A. Williams