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    Jul 01, 2024    |   Camille Labrie

5 Ways to Approach and Manage Workplace Conflict

hand removing yellow brick between two people

Written by Justin M. Deonarine, I/O Psychologist 

Read time: 2 minutes  

Conflict management is a key skill when it comes to working with or leading a team. In order to understand how to better approach conflict, consider these two factors: Your needs and the needs of the other party. The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI®) refers to these needs as Assertiveness (fulfilling your needs) and Cooperativeness (fulfilling the needs of others). According to this model, there are 5 main modes (or styles) which individuals use to navigate conflict. 

  • Avoiding: You look to disengage from the conflict. A great approach for diffusing a heated situation. 
  • Competing: You look to satisfy your needs, even if it’s at the expense of the needs of others. This is a great style for situations where a quick decision is required (such as in an emergency). 
  • Accommodating: You look to satisfy the needs of others, even if it comes at the expense of your own. This is a great approach when harmony needs to be maintained, or if you realize that your idea/approach is wrong. 
  • Compromising: You look to satisfy everyone’s needs partially, as the solution means that no one is getting everything that they wanted. This is a great approach for when you need to make a decision under a time pressure, or if the situation is too complex to come to a full agreement on. 
  • Collaborating: You look to find a solution where everyone gets everything that they wanted. This is an ideal outcome, but is difficult to actually achieve.

Keep in mind that people don’t use one style exclusively. Each individual actually uses all of these different styles, depending on the situation. But, we tend to adopt styles that have been successful in the past first, then may use other approaches according to the situation at hand. By recognizing that there is more than one approach available to you, it becomes easier to navigate and manage conflict. As a result, you can resolve conflict in a way that results in better outcomes and strengthened relationships. However, much like other skills, practice makes perfect: As we use each style, we learn new conflict resolution skills. 

Elevate conflict management within your team and drive effective collaboration by implementing the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assessment. Empower your team members to navigate conflicts with confidence, foster harmonious relationships, and enhance productivity. 


Filed under: Conflict