Work Place Conflict Management Styles and Techniques

Workplace disagreements and conflicts are a common occurrence; it is how one addresses and resolves them that matters.

You, yourself, must have had a couple; some you might have handled with grace, while in others, you may have lost it.

It is nothing to worry about; that’s what conflict is. There are only a handful of offices in the world where all the employees get along perfectly with one another.

This mandates all employers to learn various conflict management styles in order to maintain a professional relationship with other colleagues no matter how you feel about them personally.

Maintain a healthy work environment with the conflict management skills we are going to discuss in this article. In order to resolve conflicts effectively, an individual must have leadership skills; like decision making and problem solving.

What is Conflict Management?

Conflict management is an exercise of being able to identify and handle conflicts sensibly and efficiently. It is a process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict.

The aim of conflict management is to enhance learning, effectiveness and performance of an organization.

Healthy Responses to Conflict

The ability to successfully manage and resolve conflict depends on several things. Unhealthy manners of handling conflict can cause bitterness, and breakups.

When a conflict arises an effective leader must be aware of the healthy responses to conflict in order to resolve it successfully.

When conflict is resolved in a healthy way, it increases understanding of one another, builds trust, strengthening relationship bonds.

  • Here are some important and healthy responses to conflict.
  • The ability to forgive and forget.
  • The ability to use effective communication skills.
  • The capacity to recognize and respond to important matters
  • The ability to be calm and seek compromise.
  • Focusing on understanding the issues that are causing conflict

 Benefits of Conflict Management

Conflict Management Styles


Conflict management is a main component of leadership skills list.  An effective leader would be able to use different conflict management styles to resolve the conflict effectively.

In many cases, effective conflict resolution can make the difference between positive and negative outcomes.

By resolving conflict successfully, you can solve many of the problems that it has brought to the surface, as well as getting benefits that you might not expect.

Here are some benefits of conflict management.

Increased understanding

Negotiation and discussion are key elements of conflict management strategies. The discussion expands peoples’ awareness of the situation.

With sharing of ideas they can understand different point of views realizing the nature of the conflict.

This information can give them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals. Discussion can aware them about the related issues as well.

Increased Team Work

Team work can be said an essential trait to develop leadership skills. Team work encourages mutual respect and sharing of information.

When conflict is resolved effectively, relationship of team members gets stronger.

They can develop stronger mutual respect and a renewed confidence in their ability to work together.

Improved self-knowledge

When conflict arises and individuals resolve it, they analyse different situations to find out the causes and solution of the conflict.

The whole process pushes them to examine their goals and performance in detail. Through this examination they can focus on most important issues to enhance their effectiveness.

Conflict Management Styles

The style with which you decide to resolve an issue at your workplace is effectively a technique that worked best with the situation you were presented with.

No two office conflicts are the same, which means you cannot use the same approach time and again.

As an employer, you must be able to adapt to the situation and its many bumps that are likely to follow, to conclude a conflict.

Since conflict resolutions tend to get heated at times, the following styles may aid you in deciding how you should approach a particular issue.

Conflict Management Styles

Listen, Then Speak Out

The first and foremost step of any types of conflict resolutions is hearing out an employee’s issue.

Hear the side of each party involved to get a grasp of what exactly the issue is, how it started, what each party did, to figure out what can be done to resolve it.

Gather the Group

If you are in a position of power and mediating an office conflict, arrange a meeting where the parties concerned, sit at the same table in order to discuss the issue.

In this meeting, everyone is entitled to their opinion and must be given a chance to speak their side of the story.

Come to a compromise that suits everyone or assign blame if a single party is at fault.

Be Impartial

As a leader, you have to stay impartial in a conflict and never ever become personally involved in a conflict.

Maintain your stance in such a way that you don’t even mistakenly take sides. This includes any and all opinions that may imply that one party is right and the other is wrong.

Come up with an equally reasonable solution, by accessing the issue from every angle.

Be Patient

After you’ve heard and articulated every side of the conflict, take your time to evaluate the information you’ve amassed.

A rapid decision does more harm than good; and on top of that, the decision may appear to be biased. This may result in both; making the wrong decision and further alienating the employees involved.

Do Not Postpone Conflict Resolution

All conflicts arising in the office must be addressed immediately, in order to maintain peace in the office.

Carefully consider the position of the employees involved and the type of issue they are causing.

It is not wise for the management to become the mediator in every conflict that arises in a work place, as the outcome of such issues directly impacts the performance and demeanour of the staff.

Avoid Using Coercion and Intimidation

Attempting to coerce people or intimidating them through emotional outbursts may solve the problem in the short term, but don’t be a fool and believe that it will work in the long term.

In fact, it is likely that the problem will resurface yet again.

The second time however, the employees involved, will have pent up anger of their own, so you’d have deal with both; the first issue and the emotions that have festered over the interim.

Conflict management model

The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is a model for handling conflict

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

The model organizes 5 conflict management styles based on two dimensions:

Here are the five conflict management styles according to Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann:

Conflict Management Styles


This strategy is useful to adapt to what the opposing party wants; by accommodating their concerns and considering a solution that quickly resolves a conflict.

It may be at your own expense, working against your own goals, objectives, and desired outcomes.

This conflict management style is effective in two situations:

Conflict Management Styles

  • When the issue in question is a minor one and one accommodates the other to keep the peace.
  • When the other party is the expert or has a better solution

“Casual Friday” is a fine example to understand this concept.

Organizations that maintain a formal dress code institute casual Friday, considering it a low stake and as a means of keep their employees happy, while boosting their morale with little to no cost to the organization itself.


This conflict management style works in a few situations. You can use it when you simply avoid the issue.

Using this strategy you aren’t helping the other party reach their goals, and you aren’t strongly pursuing your own.

Those who avoid conflict actively come from a position of weakness; and hoping that the conflict might resolve itself, may just be wishful thinking in most cases.

However, in some situations this conflict management style can be beneficial; following are the most important situations.

  • When there is a minor issue or when you have no chance of winning.   ,
  • It can be beneficial if the other party has a tendency of causing needless tricks and bad temper.
  • It can also be effective when the issue would be very costly.
  • It’s also very effective when the atmosphere is emotionally charged and you need to create some space.
  • It is right that sometimes issues will resolve themselves, but “hope is not a strategy”.
  • Avoiding can be beneficial some situations as it saves time and prevents productivity loss but it is not a good long term strategy.


Collaboration is a group effort in which both parties sit down to discuss the issues that are in play, in order to achieve both of your goals.

This can be effective for complex scenarios where you need to find a new solution.

A transformational leader may have some deep knowledge about Collaborating. Transformational Leaders focus on change, shared values and ideas and relationship building.

The downside is that it requires a high-degree of trust and reaching a consensus can require a lot of time and effort to get everybody on board and to combine all the ideas.

This conflict management style is appropriate in the following scenarios.

  • This is beneficial when you seek the “win-win” situation.
  • To create a bigger space and room for sharing of ideas.
  • Win-win negotiation can be useful to find a solution to some extent, satisfies everyone.
  • Collaborating allows negotiation and sharing of information which is essential for the establishment of policies or work processes.
  • With collaboration both sides may better understand the position and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all as well as the conflict may be resolved.


This strategy is essentially the “win-lose” approach where one side loses and the other wins.

Using this approach you act in a very confident way to achieve your goals, without seeking to cooperate with the other party.

This approach may be appropriate in some situations. Some of them are following.

  • With limited conflicts.
  • In times of emergencies.
  • When a conflict must be resolved in order to progress.
  • This approach is best used when you need quick, decisive action, and people are aware of and support the approach.

In general, businesses benefit from this strategy and are practically known to choose it during crisis management decisions that are likely to generate ill will, such as layoffs or pay cuts.


Of all the conflict management styles, this particular style directly includes the parties involved in the conflict.

This is the “lose-lose” scenario where neither party really achieves what they want.

Compromising style requires a moderate level of assertiveness and cooperation.

This particular style is appropriate for some scenarios including the following.

  • Where you need a temporary solution, or where both sides have equally important goals.
  • Where both parties stand to lose something of considerable value.
  • This strategy is most used, manages to prevail, and most of the time, is the best solution.
  • By using a scenario-based approach, you can choose more effective conflict management styles and test their effectiveness for you and your situations.


Unresolved or even worse, unaddressed conflicts can have a subtle yet substantial affect on the teamwork upon which a business hinges and the productivity that pays the bills.

Conflicting goals can quickly turn into personal dislike. Unresolved conflicts lead to break down the Teamwork.

People do not take much interest in their work and this disengagement wastes their time and talent.

For an effective leader it is necessary to develop conflict management skills in order to run the organization successfully.

When resolving workplace conflicts, it is crucial to be aware of and consider your company’s policies and regulations.

Some issues may be outside the scope of the management and the employees must be informed to take that issue outside the office premises to avoid corrective action being taken against them.

By knowing your own default patterns you improve your self-awareness.

When you are aware of your own patterns, you can pay attention to whether they are working for you and you can explore alternatives.

Examine and focusing on important issue that are causing conflict you can improve your self-knowledge.

Here are some more interesting articles for you.

Conflict Management Styles

Strategic Planning

Communication Strategy

Problem Solving Steps



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