5 Conflict Styles

Use Thomas-Kilmann's conflict styles to understand why your team doesn't always see eye-to-eye


Have you ever struggled with opposing conflict management styles? Knowing how you and your teammates handle conflict can dramatically help the team’s decision-making.

Most of us have a “natural” conflict resolution style that corresponds with one of the five modes by researchers Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, who focus on two dimensions: assertiveness and cooperativeness.

Source : mediationinstitute.edu.au via Google Images 

Here is a quick look at five styles to understand each team member’s conflict style:


 Diplomatically sidestepping a conflict, postponing an issue, or withdrawing from a threatening situation. “Just walk away”


Standing up for your rights, defending a position that you believe is correct or trying to win. “Not going down without a fight”


Selflessly obeying another person’s wishes, yielding to another’s point of view, or keeping the peace. “Whatever you want, dear”


Exploring a disagreement, finding a win-win resolution, or trying to find a creative solution. “There’s gotta be another way”


Splitting the difference, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick agreement. “Meet you halfway”

A strong team has it all

Although we all use different styles at different moments, people tend to feel more comfortable using one or two of the five conflict styles. This is influenced by a combination of personality, nature, upbringing, culture and work environment, among others. Strong teams tend to have a diversity of conflict styles to cope with challenges.

The key to creating a successful team lies in respecting all team members’ individual styles of dealing with conflict — and remembering how people change styles under stress. 

What’s your natural style, and where do you go when stressed?

Dealing with conflict is a challenging task, so Culture Bites created a fun fifteen-minute activity in “Groan-Free Decision” box for you and your team to understand different conflict styles and create a stronger team. 


Groan Free Decisions

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