When we say “Conflict”, the first word comes to our mind is Fight, Avoid, Anger, Lose, Pain, Control, War, Hate, Impasse, Loss, Destruction, Bad, Fear, Wrong doing, Mistake etc., As you can see, conflicts is almost universally perceived as a negative occurrence.

As I shared in my last blog post that a conflict is a situation when the interests, needs, goals or values of involved parties interfere with one another. A conflict is a common phenomenon in the workplace. Different stakeholders may have different priorities; conflicts may involve team members, departments, projects, organization and client, boss and subordinate, organization needs vs. personal needs. Often, a conflict is a result of perception. Is conflict a bad thing? Not necessarily. Often, a conflict presents opportunities for improvement. Therefore, it is important to understand (and apply) various conflict resolution techniques.

Conflict Management Techniques

Conflict Management Techniques is the practice of recognizing and dealing with disputes in a rational, balanced and effective way. Following are the techniques one needs to apply based on the circumstances. Techniques should be evaluated and applied based on the own needs vs others needs
• Collaborating – I win, you win
• Compromising – Win some, lose some (You bend, I bend)
• Accommodating – I lose, you win
• Competing – I win, you lose
• Avoiding – No winners, No losers

In this post I am going to discuss the pros and cons of these techniques.

Conflict Management Techniques

Collaborating (I win, you win)
Collaboration involves an attempt to work with the other person to find a win-win solution to the problem in hand – the one that most satisfies the concerns of both parties.

• Leads to solving the actual problem
• Leads to a win-win outcome
• Reinforces mutual trust and respect
• Builds a foundation for effective collaboration in the future
• Shared responsibility of the outcome
• You earn the reputation of a good negotiator

• Collaborating may not be practical when timing is crucial and a quick solution or fast response is required
• Requires a commitment from all parties to look for a mutually acceptable solution
• The process takes lots of time and energy
• Some may take advantage of other people’s trust and openness

Compromising (Win some, lose some)
Compromising looks for an expedient and mutually acceptable solution which partially satisfies both parties.

• Faster issue resolution. Compromising may be more practical when time is a factor
• Can provide a temporary solution while still looking for a win-win solution
• Lowers the levels of tension and stress resulting from the conflict

• Important values and long-term objectives can be derailed in the process
• May require close monitoring and control to ensure the agreements are met
• May not work if initial demands are too great
• Does not contribute to building trust in the long run

Accommodating/Smoothing (I lose, you win)
Accommodating the concerns of other people first of all, rather than one’s own concerns

• In some cases smoothing will help to protect more important interests while giving up on some less important ones
• Gives an opportunity to reassess the situation from a different angle

• There is a risk to be abused, i.e. the opponent may constantly try to take advantage of your tendency toward smoothing/accommodating.
• May negatively affect your confidence in your ability to respond to an aggressive opponent
• It makes it more difficult to transition to a win-win solution in the future
• Some of your supporters may not like your smoothing response and be turned off

Competing (I win, you lose)
Also known as forcing. An individual firmly pursues his or her own concerns despite the resistance of the other person. When goals are extremely important, one must sometimes use power to win

• May provide a quick resolution to a conflict
• Increases self-esteem and draws respect when firm resistance or actions were a response to an aggression or hostility

• May negatively affect your relationship with the opponent in the long run
• May cause the opponent to react in the same way, even if the opponent did not intend to be forceful originally
• Can escalate conflict

Avoiding / Withdrawing (No winners, no losers)
Avoids conflict by withdrawing, sidestepping, or postponing

• When the opponent is forcing / attempts aggression, you may choose to withdraw and postpone your response until you are in a more favorable circumstance for you to push back
• Withdrawing is a low stress approach when the conflict is short
• Gives the ability/time to focus on more important or more urgent issues instead
• Gives you time to better prepare and collect information before you act

• Important decisions may be made by default
• Postponing may make matters worse