what is conflict management

Any company can experience disagreements. Having employees in the workplace who can manage conflict is critical to keeping attrition low, productivity high, and consumers delighted.
In this post, we explain what conflict management is and why it is important, as well as how to choose one of five typical conflict management strategies or styles (with examples) and the skills required to successfully manage conflict in the workplace.

What is Conflict Management?

Conflict management is the process of resolving disputes. On any given day, you may have to deal with a quarrel between you and another person, family member, or coworker.
Although there are many reasons why individuals disagree, many confrontations focus around:

  • Personal values (real or perceived)
  • Perceptions
  • Goals that clash
  • Power dynamics
  • Style of speaking

What are the Most Prevalent Conflict Management Styles?

The common conflict management styles are as follows:

#1. Collaborating

This conflict management style has the best long-term benefits, but it is typically the most difficult and time-consuming to implement. The interests and desires of each party are considered, and a win-win solution is found to satisfy everyone.

This typically requires all parties to come down together to discuss the conflict and negotiate a solution. When it is vital to maintain all parties’ relationships or when the solution itself will have a substantial impact, the cooperating conflict management style is adopted.

#2. Competing

The competitive conflict management style rejects compromise and refuses to give in to other people’s beliefs or aspirations. One party is adamant about how a matter should be handled and will not relent until they get their way.

This might occur when morality mandates a particular course of action, when there isn’t time to find another option, or when an unpopular decision must be made. It can rapidly settle disagreements, but it has a high danger of reducing morale and productivity.

#3. Avoidance

A conflict manager with strong conflict management skills aims to eliminate conflict by ignoring it, eliminating the opposing parties, or evading it in some way. Disagreeing team members can be removed from the project, deadlines pushed, or personnel shifted to other departments.

If a cool-down period will be good or if you need more time to contemplate your viewpoint on the conflict itself, this can be an effective conflict management style. But, avoidance should not be utilized in place of good conflict resolution; putting off conflict indefinitely can and will lead to more (and larger) disputes in the future.

#4. Accommodating

The accommodating conflict management style prioritizes the demands of the other party over one’s own. You allow them to “win” and have their way. When you don’t care as much about the topic as the other person if prolonging the conflict isn’t worth your time, or if you know you’re incorrect, you utilize accommodation.

This alternative is about maintaining peace, not exerting more effort than required, and knowing when to pick your battles. While it may appear to be a weak alternative, accommodation can be the greatest approach to overcome a minor conflict and move on to more serious matters. This style is very cooperative on the side of the resolver, yet it can lead to animosity.

#5. Compromising

In order to reach an agreement, this conflict management style asks both sides to give up some parts of their desires. Because both parties will have to give up a few things in order to achieve an agreement on the broader issue, this style is frequently referred to as “lose-lose.”

This is utilized when there is a time limitation or when a solution merely needs to happen rather than be flawless. Compromise can build animosity, especially when employed excessively as a conflict resolution method, therefore use it wisely.

It is uncommon to have a precise conflict management style that can be applied to any situation. Rather, people assess each conflict and scenario independently to choose the best course of action.
These are some methods for assessing a conflict and selecting a suitable conflict management strategy.

Factors To Consider Before Selecting a Conflict Management Style

#1. How important is the person or subject to you?

It may influence you to pick one strategy over another depending on how much you esteem the individual with whom you are in conflict or the subject at hand. It may not seem worth it to continue a long-term conflict if you are afraid of damaging your friendship with someone, yet reaching an agreement may strengthen your relationship.

Also, the gravity of the conflict can be determined by how close to home the topic is. Sometimes it’s a matter of morals or personal principles, in which case you may need to prolong the conflict.

#2. Do you understand the repercussions?

You should be prepared for the consequences of participating in the conflict. Continuing a conflict with a superior can have serious consequences, especially in a professional setting. Yet, as long as you are aware of the hazards, you can determine whether or not to continue the conflict.
If you do not participate in the conflict, you may face consequences. Alternatively, sometimes, a bad judgment is taken and carried out because you did not include a contrasting viewpoint. However, make a list of all the positive and negative effects ahead of time.

#3. Do you have the time and energy to contribute?

By taking a hard stance in a conflict, you are prepared for what may be a long-term agony requiring study, presentations, conversations, and stress. Before you go in, be sure you have the time in your schedule to devote to the conflict.

Also, and perhaps most crucially, make sure you care enough about the conflict to put in the effort required every day. Going back and forth with others on a topic that isn’t important to you might be exhausting.

You can decide which conflict management styles to use in the situation based on the answers to these questions.

Conflict Management Assessment

Understanding a manager’s conflict management style might be beneficial.
During the interview process, a conflict management quiz can be used to determine which prospective workers are effective at conflict management and resolution and which need some work.

In general, a conflict management assessment will question managers to rate how frequently they would perform a certain action on a scale of 1 to 5.
With this information, a business can determine whether or not to pursue conflict management training. This type of exam should have between 15 and 30 questions to provide a comprehensive assessment of the person’s conflict management skills.

Conflict Management Styles Quiz

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate how frequently you perform the following actions:

  1. When there is a disagreement, I will leave as soon as feasible.
  2. In disagreements, I discuss the matter with all sides to try to find the best solution.
  3. I frequently utilize negotiation to try to reach an agreement between conflicting parties.
  4. I know the best course of action to pursue and will argue it until others recognize that I am correct.
  5. I’d rather keep the peace than argue to get my way.
  6. Rather than bringing up differences, I shall keep things to myself.
  7. When there is a disagreement, I find it essential to keep communication open so that I may find a solution that works for everyone.
  8. I enjoy having disagreements and getting the upper hand in them.
  9. Disagreements make me anxious, and I will endeavor to reduce them.
  10. I am delighted to meet people halfway.
  11. It is critical for me to understand and meet the expectations of others.
  12. I take satisfaction in seeing all sides of a conflict and comprehending all of the issues involved.
  13. I enjoy discussing my position until the opposing party admits that I am correct.
  14. Conflict does not pique my interest; instead, I prefer to resolve the issue and move on to other tasks.
  15. It is less stressful to agree with others than to argue my point of view.


  • Questions 1, 6, and 9 demonstrate an avoidant style.
  • Questions 5, 11, and 15 demonstrate an accommodating style.
  • Questions 3, 10, and 14 demonstrate a compromise style.
  • Questions 4, 8, and 13 show a competing style.
  • Questions 2, 7, and 12 demonstrate a collaborative style.

Sum up your ratings for each style to see which styles you rely on the most.

Best Strategies For Conflict Management

#1. Be on the lookout for conflict.

Keep an eye out for changes in the workplace climate as well as any early symptoms of brewing conflict. Don’t ignore the signs of a latent conflict. Only if the conflict is brief and unlikely to escalate can it be safely disregarded. Avoiding conflict may seem like an easy option at first, but in most circumstances, it does not help and makes the matter more difficult to resolve later.

#2. Take a thoughtful and sensible approach to conflict.

Staying calm and being able to adopt a studied, rational, and impartial attitude to the problem is one of the greatest practices in a conflict management plan. If you are intimately involved, you may need to delegate responsibility for the situation. Resist the urge to adopt instinctual ‘fight or flight behaviors.

Reject passive behavior by refusing to apologize and accepting all points of view, whether right or wrong. Similarly, avoid confrontational behavior – don’t be authoritarian, and don’t ignore the reasoned argument. Instead, strive to be assertive while treating all parties with respect and listening to all points of view.

While dealing with those involved in conflict situations, be mindful of your words and body language. Most key, maintain objectivity and concentrate on the facts.

#3. Look into the situation.

Take the time to learn what happened, who was involved, how people are feeling, and what the problems are. Don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Individually and confidentially speak with those concerned, and actively listen to ensure you grasp their point of view.

Attempt to find any underlying causes of conflict that aren’t immediately apparent. For example, a member of staff may appear to be in conflict with colleagues, but the main cause is their sense that a supervisor is unfairly treating them. Be mindful that different people may have different perspectives on the same situation.

#4. Choose a strategy for handling the conflict.

After you’ve assessed the problem, select what course of action to take to resolve the conflict.

Consider the following:

  • Is this an important or insignificant issue? Could it go serious?
  • Should the organization’s disciplinary or grievance procedures be used?
  • Is the subject within your purview, or should it be reported to a higher-up?
  • Are there any legal ramifications? Before taking any action in cases where the law is involved, it is best to talk with your HR department.
  • Is it permissible to include a trade union representative?
  • Would it be preferable to make a decision on the subject individually, or would an informal gathering to discuss the issue be beneficial? Will the parties abide by your decision?
  • Is it necessary to wait for heated emotions to calm before proceeding?

The answers to these questions will assist you in deciding what course of action to take. For a variety of reasons, formal processes, including legal actions, may need to be triggered – if in doubt, ask your HR department. Many difficulties, however, can be handled without resorting to expensive legal proceedings. In most circumstances, a mutually agreed-upon mediated solution will be more effective than an imposed solution that may leave all parties unhappy.

#5. Allow everyone to speak.

If you can bring the parties together, you might be able to find a workable solution. Approach the meeting with a pleasant, friendly, and aggressive attitude, and establish ground rules for the discussion. Assertive behavior will urge the parties to express themselves honestly and openly, recognize the roots of conflict, and find solutions.

Ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns. People will be more likely to give up entrenched beliefs and explore compromise if they believe their point of view has been heard and their concerns have been addressed.

#6. Decide on a course of action after identifying your choices.

This is the most crucial and frequently the hardest aspect of the conflict management plan. The following steps may aid in achieving an agreement:

  • ‍Establish an environment in which all parties may speak honestly and openly.
  • Recognize emotional concerns because they are frequently at the root of the problem and must be addressed.
  • Assess how much control you need over the meeting and how much you need to intervene in the topic.
  • Investigate the sources of the disagreement.
  • Uncover any misconceptions or assumptions that are impeding progress.
  • Urge the parties to examine their own viewpoints and look for areas of agreement with others.
  • Look for topics that can be negotiated and seek win-win solutions that take the interests of all parties into account.
  • Request that the parties present their preferred solutions.
  • Provide time for reflection.
  • Evaluate each option and assist the parties in deciding which is the best route ahead.
  • Obtain the commitment of all parties to any agreement and agree on a review point.

If no progress is made, a period of reflection may be beneficial, but it may eventually be necessary to bring in another conflict manager or to seek external assistance from a professional in mediation, ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), or arbitration. In challenging instances where perfect agreement is impossible, you should strive for a solution that is acceptable to all, even if it is not the preferred alternative for all people concerned.

#7. Put what has been decided upon into action.

It is critical that everyone understands what has been decided and accepts personal responsibility for any agreed-upon actions. In some circumstances, a formal agreement may be suitable. Be cautious if any of the parties involved are embarrassed, such as if public apologies are required.

#8. Examine how things are going.

Don’t assume that the problem has been solved. Continue to monitor the situation and assess how effectively the solution is working. If the problem repeats, additional action may be required.

#9. Contemplate future prevention strategies.

Consider the lessons that can be drawn from the conflict and how it was handled. What could be done better next time? How could you improve your conflict management skills? Consider training or other types of professional development in influencing, mediation, or conflict resolution skills for yourself or a colleague.

Consider what actions can be taken in the larger context to strengthen working relationships and create a culture of open communication and consultation. Creating a sense of group identification and encouraging employees to perceive themselves as working for a common cause is an excellent strategy to reduce conflict in the future.


Each conflict management style is important depending on the situation, but as previously said, some are weaker than others and should not be relied on too heavily.
A workplace is a place where conflict is unavoidable. Savvy firms understand this and equip their conflict management teams with the necessary workplace conflict management skills to handle and resolve issues swiftly and peacefully.


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