How do you respond to conflict?

How do you respond to conflict?


Knowing and understanding how you respond to conflict can help you manage disagreements more effectively…


The Thomas-Kilmann diagnostic instrument identifies five styles of conflict, based on your degree of assertiveness and degree of cooperation. Which style is yours?

The Avoider:
Generally unassertive and uncooperative. The Avoider will dodge confrontation and physically and emotionally remove themselves from the conversation.
Catchphrase: ‘I don’t want to deal with this now.’
Pros: They may avoid potentially dangerous or threatening situations.
Allows for time to cool down if emotions are high.
Cons: The Avoider never learns to speak up for themselves.

The Competitor:
Generally assertive and uncooperative. The Competitor is usually stubborn and strong-willed.
Catchphrase: ‘I’m in charge.’
Pros: The competitor is great to have around in the event of an emergency or when a decision needs to be made quickly.
Cons: They’re not overly concerned about relationships.

The Collaborator
Generally assertive and cooperative – looks at the bigger picture.
Catchphrase: ‘We both win.’
Pros: Looks for a solution to the conflict that will satisfy both parties. Often takes the time to discuss thoughts and feelings.
Cons: This approach can be time-consuming and seen as unnecessary by the other conflict styles.
The Compromiser:
The Compromiser likes to meet in the middle and to resolve conflict fairly quickly.
Catchphrase: ‘Let’s meet halfway.’
Pros: Both parties have to give something up in order for both to be satisfied.
Cons: It can be a time-consuming negotiation process if one party is unwilling to give in their share.

The Accommodator:
Generally unassertive and cooperative – easy-going and eager to please.
Catchphrase: ‘I give in.’
Pros: The Accommodator cares more about the person than the issue.
Cons: At times the Accommodator can feel resentful if their needs are not met.

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Digital editor I’m getting married in 2018 and I think it’s the perfect time to focus on my relationship with not only my fiance but my friends, family and colleagues too. I want to nurture and cherish the people I love by being more understanding and present in their lives.


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