Choosing A Conflict Management Style

In his book, Discover Your Conflict Management Style, conflict guru Speed Leas builds on Thomas Kilman’s work and presents a Conflict Inventory of 45 questions that identifies six different styles of managing differences: Persuading, Compelling, Avoiding, Collaborating, Negotiating and Supporting.

The best time to use his resource is prior to a conflict when you can take the necessary time to learn about the six styles, discern your preferred styles and contemplate when and how to use them.

A person’s conflict management style should change, sometimes dramatically, from situation to situation. Further, each style can be an appropriate approach depending upon the situation and no style should be considered as inferior to the other.

The instrument scores you from 0-15 in each style, revealing how likely you are to choose a particular style.

Leas developed the instrument primarily for use in churches to help leaders and members gain insight and skill in addressing conflicts by becoming aware of the range of conflict strategies available as well as their own preferred style.

Choosing A Conflict Management Style

  1. PERSUADING. Persuasion strategies are the most frequently used of all conflict management styles and is the strategy where you attempt to change another’s point of view. With this approach you assume the other is incorrect or uniformed and needs to change for the situation or relationship to improve. Persuasion tends not to work in situations of low trust or high levels of conflict.
    Persuasion is more likely to succeed when:
  • The other is unclear on what they want
  • The other doesn’t have strong opinions on the subject or situation
  • The other trusts your motives
  • You have prestige, competence or credibility in the eyes of the other
  1. COMPELLING or FORCING. Compelling strategies use emotional pressure or authority to force someone to do something you want them to do.  When used over a long period of time, a compelling style deteriorates relationships and organizations.
    Compelling or forcing strategies are more likely to succeed when:
  • Rights or policies are violated
  • Time is of the essence
  • All other means have failed
  • On important and/or unpopular courses of action
  1. AVOIDING, IGNORING, ACCOMMODATING or FLEEING. In this third category, Leas combines four distinct conflict management styles that have similar results.
  • Accommodating is when you go along with the other.
  • Avoiding is when you evade or stay away from the conflict.
  • Fleeing is removing oneself from the conflict.
  • Ignoring a conflict is acting as if it isn’t happening.

Procrastination or putting off dealing with the conflict are common themes of these four styles, and are more likely to succeed when:

  • The cost of working a problem through is greater than the value of having worked it through
  • People or the organization are particularly fragile
  • People need time to cool down
  • Differences are trivial
  • You are powerless to effect change
  1. COLLABORATING. When you collaborate you work together with others on a resolution to the conflict.
    This joint problem solving approach is more likely to succeed when:
  • Everyone agrees to participate fully in this approach
  • Stakes are high and require everyone’s buy-in
  • There is sufficient time
  • There is an able facilitator
  1. BARGAINING/NEGOTIATING. In bargaining and negotiating you are trying to get as much as you can and assume you won’t get everything you want.
    Bargaining and negotiating requires a willingness to back off from some of your original demands and are more likely to succeed when:
  • Both parties are willing
  • The issue is not dichotomous or parties don’t have mutually exclusive goals
  • There is not power or rank disparity between the parties
  • The issue being bargained or negotiated is divisible
  1. SUPPORTING. Supporting strategies make the assumption the other is the one with the problem, and it your job to not fix it but to provide resources for the other to deal with the problem.
    Supporting strategies typically involve communication and listening skills and are more likely to succeed when:
  • Two parties are in conflict and try to get you to take a side
  • It is not your responsibility to deal with the problem or conflict
  • Someone is under high stress
  • The problem is outside your relationship with either party

Coaching Questions

  1. How will you use these conflict management styles?
  2. What’s your current conflict management style?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry

 

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Conquering Conflict Effectively

The Thomas-Kilmann conflict model has been introduced in previous blogs as successful ways to conquer conflict effectively. These studies show that each of us is capable of using all five conflict-handling modes. None of us can be characterized as having only a single rigid approach or style of dealing with conflict.

All five modes are useful in some situations. The effectiveness of a given conflict-handling mode depends on the requirements of the specific situation and the skill with which you exercise that mode. Develop your ability to choose the right mode and increase your level of comfort with all five modes

There are five different approaches to conflict within this model. In summary …..

  • Competing focuses on “might makes right.” It means you take an assertive and uncooperative approach to resolving the conflict.
  • Accommodating has the attitude of “kill them with kindness.” This means to take an unassertive and cooperative approach to resolving the conflict.
  • Avoiding has the mentality of “leave well enough alone.” This means to take an unassertive and uncooperative approach to resolving the conflict.
  • Collaborating asserts, “two or more heads are better than one.” This is an assertive and cooperative approach to resolving the conflict.
    Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find a solution or “third alternative” that fully satisfies both sides. It also involves highly developed conflict resolution skills based on mutual respect, a willingness to listen to others perspectives, and creativity in finding solutions.

Outcome: I win, you win.

Examples of Appropriate Use:

1) When buy-in and commitment are required.

2) When looking for long-term solutions.

3) When the issue impacts all aspects of the organization.

  • Compromising is the fifth and final method using the Thomas-Kilmann model. This approach encourages to “split the difference.” It’s an assertive and cooperative approach to resolving the conflict. The objective is to find some expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. Both sides get something, but not everything.

    Compromising falls in the middle ground between competing and accommodating, giving up more than competing but less than accommodating. Likewise, it addresses an issue more directly than avoiding, but does not explore it in as much depth as collaborating. Compromising might mean some give and take, exchanging concessions or seeking a quick middle-ground solution.

Examples of Appropriate Use:

1) When the decision is temporary or stop-gap.

2) When expediency is required.

3) When preserving relationships is important.

Coaching Questions

  1. How do these modes of dealing with conflict relate to your previous handling of conflict?
  2. What will you adopt from these modes?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry

 

 

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Effective Models to Deal with Conflict

Due to the inevitability of facing conflict, effective leaders must continually be prepared to deal with conflict in appropriate ways. In a previous blog the Thomas-Kilmann model was introduced as a potential model for leaders to use when dealing with conflict. There are five different approaches to conflict within this model.

Competing was presented as an assertive and uncooperative approach to resolving conflict. The mode of competing, or “might makes right” means you take an assertive and uncooperative approach to resolving the conflict. When competing an individual pursues their own concerns regardless of how it affects the other party. This is a power-oriented mode in which you use whatever power seems appropriate to win your own position.

The following are two additional approaches used by the Thomas-Kilmann model.

  • Accommodating. This approach has the attitude of “kill them with kindness.” This means to take an unassertive and cooperative approach to resolving the conflict, the complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the individual acts selflessly and is willing to forego his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person. Accommodating might take the form of obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to or yielding to another’s point of view.

Outcome: I lose, you win.

Examples of Appropriate Use:

1) When maintaining harmony or a relationship is of utmost importance.

2) When you know there is little chance of getting what you want.

3) When the issue is of low importance and is “not a hill to die on.”

  • Avoiding. This approach has the mentality of “leave well enough alone.” This means to take an unassertive and uncooperative approach to resolving the conflict. Never attempt to deal with conflict so you stall or ignore the issue. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing addressing an issue until a better time, or withdrawing from a potentially threatening situation.

Outcome: I lose, you lose.

Examples of Appropriate Use:

1) When costs outweigh the benefits.

2) When time is needed to calm down or consider alternatives.

3) When the issue is trivial.

Coaching Questions

  1. What model for addressing conflict have you had the most success using?
  2. How will you use the Thomas-Kilmann model for dealing with conflict?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry
 

 

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Choices Concerning Conflict

Conflict is a constant in all relationships. Because no two individuals have exactly the same expectations, needs, perspectives and desires, conflict is a natural part of our daily interactions. The ultimate question doesn’t concern if you’ll eventually have conflicts. You will. The concern is how you’ll handle conflict when it arises.

Most leaders spend several hours a week addressing some form of conflict. In the majority of cases, the outcomes are unsatisfactory and lead to personal fall-outs, pain, disharmony, and distractions from the focus of a team or organization.

Fortunately, there’s help. Several great models of conflict resolution are available to assist leaders in dealing with various levels of conflict. The Thomas-Kilmann model is a great option to teach leaders how to manage conflict effectively.

The Thomas-Kilmann model has two dimensions. The first dimension, the vertical axis, is concerned with conflict responses based on our attempt to get what we want. Thomas and Kilmann call these the Assertiveness options.

The other dimension, the horizontal axis, is concerned with responses based on helping others get what they want. Thomas and Kilmann call these the Co-cooperativeness options. This creates 5 basic types, or modes of response.

This blog will address the first mode for conflict resolution. Subsequent blogs will deal with the other four modes.

Competing. The mode of competing, or “might makes right” means you take an assertive and uncooperative approach to resolving the conflict. When competing an individual pursues their own concerns regardless of how it affects the other party.

This is a power-oriented mode in which you use whatever power seems appropriate to win your own position. Competing often means standing up for your rights, defending a position you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.

Outcome: I win, you lose.

Examples of Appropriate Use:

  • When a quick decision is required.
  • When safety and security are at stake.
  • When securing a contract or bid.

Coaching Questions

  1. How do you handle conflict resolution?
  2. What models are you using?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry

 

 

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Preventing Leader Burnout

Burnout is all to often present in the lives of leaders. It’s a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

When you’re burned out from stress, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something about your situation.

Burnout causes unhappiness and detachment that can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. While you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

The good news is burnout can be overcome.

Preventing Leader Burnout

Be consistent in personal devotion. Don’t neglect prayer and reading the Bible. Prayer is an ongoing conversation with God and a time for spiritual refueling. When your prayer life wanes, burnout will increase.

Divert, Withdraw and Abandon. Take a few minutes personal time every day to divert. Pray, reflect and refocus. Withdraw weekly for several hours to do what you enjoy and want to do. Abandon annually and take a vacation. Abandon the cell phone, email and texts. Be intentional about downtime.

Pray for your critics. Criticism is one of the most frequently mentioned causes of burnout. Praying for people who use and persecute you is biblical. Praying for negative people will give you a fresh perspective and potentially change the attitudes of the critics. Respond to critics in love and not harshly.

Recall your passion. Refocus on the gifts and calling you have in your areas of expertise as a leader. Being a leader can sometimes be confusing and frustrating. Recall the purpose of what your leadership brings to life

Share your burden. Don’t bear your burnout alone. Find a friend to share your burden with. Every leader needs a key mentor and confidant who they can trust.

Coaching Questions

  1. How do you deal with burnout?
  2. What are the signs of experiencing burnout?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry

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Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

All leaders have days when boredom, overload, or feeling unappreciated, leaves them wanting to give up and quit. If these feelings exist most of the time, it’s very likely burnout is the problem.

While you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

Symptoms of Burnout

  • Exhaustion. You’re exhausted all the time. Physically, emotionally and spiritually there’s a lack of vision and energy. Your motto becomes “no rest for the weary.” You become lethargic in simple tasks
  • Lack of appreciation. You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated. No one seems to care about you or your contributions. A sense of loneliness begins to dominate your environment.
  • Lack of focus. The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming. Intellectually there’s no challenge. Frustration leads to a lack of focus.
  • Lack of hope. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations.
  • Lack of motivation. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring.
  • Lack of passion. Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy. There is no passion left for responsibilities at work or at home. You feel as if nothing is worthwhile anymore. don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations.
  • Negative attitudes. Every day is a bad day. Nothing ever seems to work out for the best. Problems continually plague your time. Arriving at one solution to a problem seems to create another problem to solve.

Coaching Questions

  1. How do you handle burnout as a leader?
  2. What symptoms of burnout do you identify with the most?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry

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Ten Traits of Effective Leaders

Here’s a quick list of characteristics and habits that describe effective leaders. We’ve all seen lists like this, but to add a different layer of description, each attribute in this list of leadership is balanced by the opposite quality.

There are some aspects of leadership that can be learned. However, it is not possible for everyone to master all ten of these characteristics. Leadership is not a value judgment. It’s a particular combination of talents and temperament. One who is an effective leader is not necessarily a better person than one who is not.

This list of ten traits is meant to help you accurately visualize what effective leadership looks like. Use it as a guide and method for comparison. To be an authentic leader you must do what authentic leaders do.

Leaders:

  • Know the difference between having a reason based upon fact, and an excuse meant to evade or limit liability.
  • Are accountable, accepting the burden of duty; they do not rationalize, trying to dodge responsibility or justify their failures.
  • Speak in terms of what can be done, not what can’t be done.
  • Always have a back up plan, they’re prepared for contingencies; they do not rely on chance, blaming whatever goes wrong on simple happenstance, outside the limits of their control.
  • Work with vision and purpose; they’re not erratic, unstable or unpredictable.
  • Are proactive, controlling events; they are not reactive, letting events dictate to them.
  • Bloom in challenging times; they don’t wilt under pressure.
  • Are adaptable and flexible; they are not intractable, nor do they freeze up when confronted with unexpected changes in conditions or plans.
  • Build others up; they do not tear others down.
  • Expect complete integrity and dedication to mission, personally setting the performance bar; they do not set standards for others while exempting themselves.

Coaching Questions

  1. How does your leadership reflect these traits?
  2. What traits would you use to describe an effective leader?
  3. What would you add?

Dr. Jerry

 

 

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