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TKI Conflict Resolution Modes

Written on January 5, 2011

There are many approaches to evaluating and adjusting how one conducts themselves in professional settings, especially when it comes to leadership and managerial roles. Being a good Project Manager, Team Leader, or any other similar position requires taking a step back to get a clear view of our own management styles.

You may or may not have heard of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. It is a series of tests designed to evaluate and define different management styles and to consider the pros and cons of each. We learn about 5 styles of conflict resolution in TKI today courtesy of ICPM, and this article by Margaret Meloni.

These 5 styles are defined by the various levels to which each utilize assertiveness and cooperativeness – both essential aspects of management and conflict resolution. They are also defined by their relationship to one another, as we will see.

The five styles are Competing, Accommodating, Avoiding, Collaborating, and Compromising. The first, Competing, is highly assertive and highly uncooperative. It is the opposite of Accommodating, which is unassertive but highly cooperative. Avoiding and Collaborating are also opposites – the former being unassertive and uncooperative, and the latter being both assertive and cooperative. Compromising, as the odd one out, is naturally the middle ground for both.

One of the main functions of the test is to present these styles in such a way that all are supposed to hold the same “social desirability.” Simply put, each has their place in a professional setting. While Avoiding and Competing can appear to have negative connotations, there are times when they are absolutely the appropriate modes of action to properly resolving a conflict.

You can’t sum it up better than Margaret did herself in the article. “Remember, there is a reason and a situation for each one of the modes, but your strength will come from understanding your natural inclinations and then from learning how to employ other modes when the time is right.”

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