Styles of Conflict Resolution
Do you understand your approach to conflict resolution and why this matters?
When conflict arises in life, most of us see this as something to overcome, or to get through. However by better understanding why conflict arises, and our reactions to conflict, we can more objectively select the main style of conflict resolution that suits the particular situation, or avoid the conflict altogether.
Sound like something you’d be interested in?
In this blog we look at the 5 main styles of conflict resolution, including what they are, which ones you choose, what you bring to the conflict, and how to apply this new understanding to get control of conflict before it gets control of you.
The 5 Main Styles of Conflict Resolution
There are 5 main styles of conflict resolution. Each style has it’s own characteristics and may be useful in different situations. The 5 styles are:
Collaborating is when both parties work together with the goal of resolving the conflict to everyone’s complete satisfaction.
The parties approach the situation with a solution-oriented, “team” approach.
This approach also results in “buy in” and a higher level of commitment than some other styles.
Compromising is a mutual give-and-take.
It is often used when both parties are willing to concede and make concessions.
Compromise is a good strategy for when each party wants to resolve the issue quickly.
When a person uses this technique, they may do so in order to avoid conflict, or to help the other person get what they want.
A person who uses this style often gives in to others to avoid disagreements.
They may give in to others to the extent that they compromise themselves.
When someone competes, their only interest is to resolve the conflict their way, rather than clarifying or addressing the issue.
They have no interest in the well being or satisfaction of others, they just want to be “right.”
People who use the avoidance technique withdraw and detach themselves from the issue.
They do not want to assert their own perspectives nor do they want to help others resolve the situation.
They just want to “mind their own business.”
People will often use avoidance if they do not have a vested interest in the situation. They may say they are choosing to “pick their battles.”
What we bring to the conflict
Conflicts can be avoided or more easily resolved if we first step back, instead of immediately reacting and jumping right in. This doesn’t mean we should avoid conflict altogether, but it does mean we should evaluate and reflect upon what our personal values, unmet needs or sense of self is contributing to the conflict.
Our own personal values and needs affect how we approach conflict, as we often approach the other person with our own set of thoughts and opinions about what they “should” say or do. What is most important is to approach the situation objectively, without judgment, and with a willingness to look at all sides.
The perceptions we hold of ourselves can also play a part in our conflict. If we feel either unworthy to have our needs met or entitled to have our way, it will affect how we approach the conflict, and the result.
Which conflict resolution style do you choose?
Different situations often require us to use different conflict resolution strategies.
For instance, in some situations, we will be very motivated to collaborate because we care about the person or relationship. In other situations we may choose to avoid the situation altogether because it’s a battle not worth fighting.
There may be times that we are so passionate and feel so strongly about our beliefs, that we will use the competing tactic because we want to get our own way.
Take a few moments to think about your reaction to conflict.
How do others in your life react to conflict?
Do you tend to use the same style of conflict resolution all the time? Or do you adapt your style depending on the situation?
By understanding your own and others reactions to conflict, you can better decide which conflict resolution style will best suit your situation. This, in turn, will help you get control of conflict before it gets control of you.
How to better resolve or avoid conflicts
The truth is that conflict usually arises from unmet needs, unrecognised differences and beliefs, and the difficulties we face in coping with life changes and challenges.
More self-awareness of what needs are at play can go a long way to helping us steer clear of conflict.
Or at least, can help us to be aware of what we are bringing to the confrontation. Our awareness can then help us approach the matter more objectively, and select the style that best suits the situation.
So the next time you sense a conflict arising, stop and take notice of how your sense of self might be affecting your approach to the situation and think about which of the 5 styles you might choose to resolve it.
Is it time to get control of conflict in your life?
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