Several strategies available for conflict management

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kelly Lane
  • 934th Airlift Wing Civilian Personnel Office

There are several strategies we can choose from when in conflict situations:
· Forcing - using formal authority or other power that you possess to satisfy your concerns without regard to the concerns of the party that you are in conflict with.
· Accommodating - allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your own.
· Avoiding - not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve it.
· Compromising - attempting to resolve a conflict by identifying a solution that is partially satisfactory to both parties, but completely satisfactory to neither.
· Collaborating - cooperating with the other party to understand their concerns and expressing your own concerns in an effort to find a mutually and completely satisfactory solution (win-win).

Research on conflict management styles has found that each of us tends to use one or two of the above five strategies more than the others. There are many advantages to using a collaborating strategy to handle interpersonal conflict situations. Collaborating with co-workers promotes creative problem solving, and it's a way of fostering mutual respect and rapport. Employees who are very skilled at conflict management are able to understand interpersonal conflict situations and use the appropriate conflict management strategy for each situation.

When you find yourself in conflict over very important issues, you should normally try to collaborate with the other party.
When dealing with moderately important issues, compromising can often lead to quick solutions. However, compromise does not completely satisfy either party, and compromise does not foster innovation the way that taking the time to collaborate can.
When you find yourself in conflict over a fairly unimportant issue, using an accommodating strategy is a quick way to resolve the conflict without straining your relationship with the other party.

Avoiding should normally be reserved for situations where there is a clear advantage to waiting to resolve the conflict. Too often, interpersonal conflicts persist and even worsen if there is no attempt to resolve them.

The civilian personnel office and the AFGE Local union both have trained mediators, who can assist with conflict resolution and facilitative problem solving.