Understanding Conflict Management Styles in the Workplace

Understanding Conflict Management Styles in the Workplace

In everyday life, conflict is bound to happen. As individuals, our personalities will often differ, which can create situations where they clash with one another. Personality conflicts can also take place in the workplace. It’s paramount that all employees undergo conflict management training to resolve their differences and work together. Failing to help employees and leadership resolve workplace conflict by using one of the several conflict management styles can result in toxic work environments and disruptions in business operations.

Keep reading to learn about the styles of conflict management that you can use to resolve conflicts in the workplace successfully.

two employees arguing on a couch

What are Conflict Management Styles?

Conflict management styles can be best defined as the strategies a person or a group of individuals uses when confronting a conflict or disagreement with another person. Conflict management styles often involve the behaviours that people use when attempting to resolve disagreements or conflicts between others in the workplace. They define how a person perceives their own overall effectiveness in dealing with conflict.

Did you know: that studies have shown that 85% of employees experience conflict in the workplace?

5 Conflict Management Styles

Understanding the different conflict management styles can be key to helping leadership and your HR team be able to manage the different personalities and resolve issues in the office effectively. The following are 5 different conflict styles, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

1. Accommodating

Individuals who often utilise an accommodating style of conflict management will do so in order to resolve the conflict more swiftly. In this style of conflict management, the emphasis is on the other person involved and their needs. The goal of accommodating conflict management styles is to find a solution that is acceptable to one party.

Often those who have an accommodating conflict management style can be prone to a bit of self-sacrificing and people-pleasing for the sake of resolving the conflict quickly. The goal of accommodating conflict management styles is to find a solution that is acceptable to the other party.

Advantage: An accommodating conflict style can be beneficial to leadership as small issues become resolved more easily. It can be a helpful form of conflict management when the problem is more individualised and not involving multiple entities.

Disadvantage: It can be challenging for leadership not to be viewed as unreliable or possibly manipulative if the conflict involves a larger problem or has multiple parties involved.  

2. Avoiding

People who use an avoiding conflict management style are essentially aiming to avoid the issue entirely. This style of conflict management often involves avoiding or postponing a difficult conversation that needs to be had in order to resolve the issue effectively. Avoiding also prevents problems from being resolved because it does not allow the people involved to openly discuss their differences, concerns, and issues in order to efficiently work out solutions together. This is often a sign of someone who has poor communication skills

Advantage: Avoiding conflict styles can be beneficial in the event of personalities clashing too directly or tempers between individuals flaring. It can allow both parties the time to calm down and de-escalate a tense situation before it turns into a bigger issue within the workplace.

Disadvantage: This conflict management style can be highly ineffective in the long term within the workplace, where employees may feel that leadership does not take conflicts seriously. It can then break workplace tension and lower employee morale if issues are avoided entirely. 

3. Collaborating 

A collaborating style of managing conflict is a win-win type of conflict resolution that involves working with others to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs. This style of conflict management is best used when the problem is not urgent in nature and can create an opportunity to resolve the issue effectively. This is because all parties involved are willing to work together toward a mutually beneficial outcome for everyone. Collaboration allows you to find common ground and build trust, which can strengthen your relationships within the workplace in the long run.

Advantage: This conflict management style may take longer than other kinds, but it can be important to get everyone on board with the decision before calling an issue resolved. 

Disadvantage: The only disadvantage to a collaborative conflict resolution style is that it can be a time-consuming and lengthy process for the resolution of the problem. It is not an ideal solution for small workplace conflicts that can be resolved quickly with another resolution style.

4. Compromising

A compromising conflict management style can be more of a lose-lose solution to workplace issues. The primary goal for this type of conflict management style is to allow both parties to come to a mutually agreeable resolution and middle ground to rectify the issue more quickly. This conflict management style is helpful in scenarios when reaching a solution is more important than the solution itself or if there is a standstill with resolving the issue. 

Advantage: When using a compromising style of conflict management both parties compromise elements of their wishes, this aims to reach an agreement quickly. It can also foster more collaboration in the future if the conflict is compromised appropriately.

Disadvantage: The interaction will not be completely satisfactory for either party. The likelihood of future collaboration with someone will decrease if there is too much sacrifice from either party involved.

5. Competing

A competing style of conflict management is based on the idea that the most efficient way to solve a problem is to compete with the other person or group. Competing is a win-lose conflict resolution since the resolution is based on a definite winner and loser of the issue. This approach can be effective when you are looking for an immediate resolution.

Advantage: A competing conflict management style focuses on getting things done as fast as possible by making sure everyone understands their role in resolving an issue quickly.

Disadvantage: There are solutions outside of the realm of competition. In the short term, this strategy might seem effective, but in the long run, it can breed animosity and bitterness in the office.

Which Conflict Management Style Is Right for You?

Resolving conflict within the workplace can seem challenging but with the right approaches, it is possible to resolve things effectively. It can be highly beneficial for all parties involved to foster collaboration and cooperation in more significant conflicts. For smaller disputes, focusing on compromising and accommodating can be a temporary resolution. This can show all parties involved that you are willing to help them come to a mutually beneficial agreement in order to resolve issues more quickly. Using avoidance styles of conflict management can be a quick fix for de-escalating tense situations between colleagues and workplace personality clashes.

The appropriate conflict management style in the workplace depends on the situation, the people involved, and the desired outcome. Managing conflict effectively requires an understanding of the preferences of the parties involved and the type of conflict they face. It helps leadership, employees, and HR teams learn how to handle disputes with people who have different conflict management styles and personalities.

Find Courses to Help With Conflict Management

At Cloud Assess we offer a wide variety of free courses. If you don’t want to look through all of them to find the right one, check these course lists that can help improve your conflict management skills:

Cloud Assess Can Help You Manage Conflicts

If you want to bring your employees up to speed with the latest conflict management styles, it’s important to implement workplace training. This is where Cloud Assess can help. With our blended learning approach, we provide training for a wide range of workplace skills. Simply try out our free trial to see how we can benefit your business today.

workplace conflict among employees in boardroom

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