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Conflict Resolution Styles

It is said that conflicts can be either destructive or they can be constructive. The difference lies in how they are resolved! Every individual has their own preferred style of resolving conflicts. Also, different situations and scenarios have their own apt conflict resolution styles. We shall understand a few over here now.

To understand the conflict resolution styles, let us first know what conflicts are and how they are formed. A conflict is a deliberate and conscious intent to oppose another. Conflicts get created when two or more individuals oppose one another in a personal or professional or social situation. This happens when the individuals need to work together but may have different goals. This also happens when the both individuals want the same thing that is scarcely available. Every individual always aspires to maximize his/her gain in any situation, sometimes even without due consideration at the expense of another person involved in the same situation. This invariably leads to a struggle to wanting self to win and keeping others from achieving their win, thus resulting in a conflict.

When a conflict is resolved properly using the appropriate style required at that time, it provides a clarification and problem solving quality that increases involvement and enhances growth and strengthens relationships! Research establishes five popular conflict resolution techniques:

1. Withdrawal – when one retreats from a conflicting situation or a problem
This happens when an individual shows less value and importance for both their goal as well as their relationship with the other individual. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a turtle that withdraws into its shell to avoid any conflict. Sometimes when the conflict is not relevant to self or when the other individual is purposefully instigating an individual, it is better to behave like a turtle and avoid the conflict altogether.

2. Smoothing – when one tries to focus more on common areas of agreement or no conflict and attempts to avoid getting into areas of disagreement or conflict
This happens when an individual gives a lot more value to the relationship at hand than to one’s own goals at that time. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a teddy bear which would want to be accepted and liked by other people and do not like to damage relationships. This is the route to take up to avoid conflicts with close ones and live a life of harmony

3. Compromising –when one searches for a solution that appears to give a certain level of satisfaction to both parties, while ignoring certain other criteria of the conflict
This happens when an individual gives moderate importance to both goals and relationships. The individual is then said to behave as a fox which usually tend to give up part of their own goals in order to persuade others in a conflict to give up part of theirs. In these situations, both sides gain a middle ground between two extreme positions. Situations when a balance needs to be worked out for the common good a compromise is a good solution.

4. Forcing – when one attempts to push or force one’s view or stand of the situation onto the other thus creating a sense of winning while the other loses in the process
This happens when an individual gives a lot of importance to their goals and very little importance to their relationships. The individual is then said to be behaving as a shark that would try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solutions to the conflict. When the goal is very important and critical for oneself, it is at times, vital to fight for one’s rights.

5. Confrontation – when one directly addresses the issue at hand by talking with the other party and discussing amicably to create a mutually agreeable and acceptable solution
This happens when one highly values both their goals as well as their relationships. The individual is then said to behave as an owl that views conflicts as problems to be resolved and seeks out a solution that helps both people involved in the conflict. When it is important to seek out solutions that satisfy everyone, it is important to work out a conflict by confrontation.

The above categorization is based on how much one values one’s goals and priorities vs. how much one values one’s relationships and associations. Just as each individual has their own preferred style, also each style is effective in certain situations.

Be aware of one’s and other’s conflict resolution styles! Resolve your conflicts…
You have the power!

Published in The Hans India on 18th Aug 2011


August 30, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. very nice article, which is informative..

    Comment by Pabitra | August 31, 2012 | Reply

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