Conflict and Cohesion: How Different Conflict Styles Can Affect Your Workforce

Conflict is unavoidable. Each individual has a unique approach to life in general and so it’s small wonder that conflict often arises in the workplace. How can you help your employees to use their differences to find a cohesive solution that is even better than their individual solutions? 

“An individual’s perspective on conflict and how they manage it is related to the way they were raised, their culture, their past experiences and the meanings they have given to those past experiences”, says Eileen Thornhill, Director at The LLC Academy, “These experiences create the lens through which we view the world”. 

“Managing conflict comes down to effective communication,” says Thornhill. “Our leadership programmes include a conflict resolution and effective communication component. To manage conflict in the workplace, it helps to establish what type of conflict resolution styles are at play.” 

The five conflict styles, according to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) are collaborating, competing, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising.  

“Collaborators will predominantly attempt to work with others, in order to find a solution that makes everyone happy,” says Thornhill. “Competitors are more likely to chase their own goals at the expense of others, while avoiders tend to try and dodge conflict entirely. Accommodators will put other people’s needs ahead of their own in order to resolve conflict, and compromisers are likely to want to find a mutually acceptable solution – that may not be the best solution, in order to expedite decision making.” 

There is no best type of conflict style – each has their time and place. “You may think that a collaborative style is the best way to approach any type of conflict,” says Thornhill. “However, when time is of the essence and making a quick decision is more valuable than making a decision that is collaborative, a compromise may be the best solution.” 

“People may have a preferred mode of conflict resolution, effective communication and conflict management skills can be learned and go a long way to helping people see the other person’s perspective,” says Thornhill. “These modules are essential components of our programme offering.” 

Interpersonal skills and relationship building are essential components of the workplace environment. If you are eager to develop and grow your workforce’s leadership skills, while benefitting from 125% Recognition for every Rand spent on your B-BBEE scorecard, speak to our experts at The LLC Academy. 

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