Unfortunately, we all deal or have dealt with conflict in one form or another. Some of us so much so that we can call ourselves experts! But I know that I never considered labeling my conflict style or even thought I had one. Recognizing your own style can help deal with conflict more efficiently. To generalize there are 5 overarching styles that are can be present when dealing with conflict,Thomas Killman and Ronald Kraybill have created models based off of this idea,although differ in naming some of the stages.
1. Competing: This is the classic "debate" mentality. There has to be a winner and a loser otherwise the conflict is not resolved. This is the way most people engage in a conflict, we see our own interests as most important, and the other person's interests as insignificant. This style does not necessarily have to be negative. In certain situations, competition is helpful, for instance if there is an emergency then someone has to take charge, but if we value the relationship with the person we are in conflict with, winning can ruin that relationship. We have to choose carefully.
2. Accommodation: This is at the complete opposite of competing. In this case we do not pay any regard to our own interests in the conflict and instead succeed to the others. This too has pros and cons, depending on the situation. If we want to keep the relationship stable then giving into the other person's desires can be productive as long as we recognize ours are not met. That within itself is a con because then we may just always yield and not keep our own voice.
3. Avoiding: This is a popular style for some people, because they just do not want to deal with confrontation. In this style we see our interests and the other person as not worthy enough to discuss or converse about in fear that it will lead to conflict and so we run. This can be positive if the conflict itself is something we determine as insignificant, so then we save time. However, it can also be negative because avoiding something that is actually of value can lead it to only grow into a bigger problem later.
4. Collaborating: This is the ideal style for most situations. We hold our interests and the inters ts of others at the highest level and try to satisfy all needs, which is the positive. The negative is that it is a lengthy process and time consuming, therefore this style would not be applicable in every conflict, because some are more important that others and you don't want to waste time on something small.
5. Compromising: This is the style that most people think is the best alternative. The common phrase is "give a little, to get a little." In reality though, it is most effective for short term solutions. It fixes the problem which is a positive, but it also requires concession from each party and so not all interests are met, which can lead to resentment later. At Search, we promote the idea of common ground, but at the highest common denominator.
What I hope some can gain from this is recognizing that in certain situations one is more appropriate than the other and you can choose which you want to use. You have a choice! For instance, I am more of a compromise(r), but that does not mean I do not avoid people at other times. Being aware of the possibilities and knowing more about ourselves helps to resolve conflicts in a way we are comfortable with and increasing the chances of a more positive experience.