Conflict Resolution Styles

When conflict is the topic of discussion, most people don’t realize that we all have a default that we tend to reset to when faced with pressure. Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann has developed a model that identifies 5 styles of conflict management. Knowing these 5 styles can circumvent conflict that brings no results. This could be very harmful in any environment, especially in a team. It also limits personal growth and adaptability in leadership. So, what can you do to change this instinctual response?

Most of us can identify with one or more of the 5 styles of conflict management. Let’s take a look at them and attempt to add some new responses to boost self-awareness.

At the core of these styles are two fundamental aspects; assertiveness and cooperativeness. These two are also used to gauge the 5 styles as a combination of the 2 aspects results in the 5 different styles.


The accommodating style is unassertive and cooperative. A person adopting this style will play down the conflict and will rather focus on creating harmony among the other parties. Self-sacrifice is an essential part of this approach as it values relationship above achieving goals.


This approach is when you are not geared toward your own or others’ goals. The relationship is therefore not important either. Simply put, you avoid the issue in totality. The low cooperativeness and assertiveness become damaging when it becomes a long-term solution.


This style brings a win-win results as its draws from partnering to bring a joint solution. This approach requires input and buy-in from all parties to work toward a common goal that satisfies all involved and therefore puts relationship on a high importance level.


This style assertively achieves goals and does not require any collaboration with the other parties involved.


This approach aims to find middle ground regarding goals. It requires an element of sacrifice from each party to reach a solution that appeases everyone.



The grids above and below can be used to help you use the conflict styles strategically.

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