Drawer Trigger

Conflict Styles

Whatever your conflict style, it is helpful to know how you engage with conflict. There can be advantages/disadvantages to each of these styles and may be appropriate depending on the situation. Take a look at the conflict styles below to determine what style you lean to in the face of conflict.

The Competing Shark

  • Sharks use a forcing or competing conflict management style
  • Sharks are highly goal-oriented
  • Relationships take on a lower priority
  • Sharks do not hesitate to use aggressive behavior to resolve conflicts
  • Sharks can be autocratic, authoritative, and uncooperative; threatening and intimidating
  • Sharks have a need to win; therefore others must lose, creating win-lose situations
  • Advantage: If the shark's decision is correct, a better decision without compromise can result
  • Disadvantage: May breed hostility and resentment toward the person using it
  • Appropriate times to use a Shark style
    • when conflict involves personal differences that are difficult to change
    • when fostering intimate or supportive relationships is not critical
    • when others are likely to take advantage of noncompetitive behavior
    • when conflict resolution is urgent; when decision is vital in crisis
    • when unpopular decisions need to be implemented

The Avoiding Turtle

  • Turtles adopt an avoiding or withdrawing conflict management style
  • Turtles would rather hide and ignore conflict than resolve it; this leads them uncooperative and unassertive
  • Turtles tend to give up personal goals and display passive behavior creating lose-lose situations
  • Advantage: may help to maintain relationships that would be hurt by conflict resolution
  • Disadvantage: Conflicts remain unresolved, overuse of the style leads to others walking over them
  • Appropriate times to use a Turtle Style:
    • when the stakes are not high or issue is trivial
    • when confrontation will hurt a working relationship
    • when there is little chance of satisfying your wants
    • when disruption outweighs benefit of conflict resolution
    • when gathering information is more important than an immediate decision
    • when others can more effectively resolve the conflict
    • when time constraints demand a delay

The Accommodating Teddy Bear

  • Teddy bears use a smoothing or accommodating conflict management style with emphasis on human relationships
  • Teddy bears ignore their own goals and resolve conflict by giving into others; unassertive and cooperative creating a win-lose (bear is loser) situation
  • Advantage: Accommodating maintains relationships
  • Disadvantage: Giving in may not be productive, bear may be taken advantage of
  • Appropriate times to use a Teddy Bear Style
    • when maintaining the relationship outweighs other considerations
    • when suggestions/changes are not important to the accommodator
    • when minimizing losses in situations where outmatched or losing
    • when time is limited or when harmony and stability are valued

The Compromising Fox

  • Foxes use a compromising conflict management style; concern is for goals and relationships
  • Foxes are willing to sacrifice some of their goals while persuading others to give up part of theirs
  • Compromise is assertive and cooperative-result is either win-lose or lose-lose
  • Advantage: relationships are maintained and conflicts are removed
  • Disadvantage: compromise may create less than ideal outcome and game playing can result
  • Appropriate times to use a Fox Style
    • when important/complex issues leave no clear or simple solutions
    • when all conflicting people are equal in power and have strong interests in different solutions
    • when their are no time restraints

The Collaborating Owl

  • Owls use a collaborating or problem confronting conflict management style valuing their goals and relationships
  • Owls view conflicts as problems to be solved finding solutions agreeable to all sides (win-win)
  • Advantage: both sides get what they want and negative feelings eliminated
  • Disadvantage: takes a great deal of time and effort
  • Appropriate times to use an Owl Style
    • when maintaining relationships is important
    • when time is not a concern
    • when peer conflict is involved
    • when trying to gain commitment through consensus building
    • when learning and trying to merge differing perspectives

Source: Mastering Human Relations, 3rd Ed. by A. Falikowski 2002 Pearson Education http://www.pearsoned.ca