Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges An Overview of Conflict Styles: A Coaching Tool

An Overview of Conflict Styles: A Coaching Tool

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The competitor is easy to recognize.  Winning is the name of their game and they are only concerned about their own needs.  They are at the top of the assertiveness scale and low on the cooperativeness scale.  A competitive strategy is good in emergencies or other instances when quick decisions need to be made.  Competitors use rank, position and influence and state their positions, opinions and feelings clearly.  When competition is overused the environment is characterized by a lack of feedback, low empowerment and reduced learning.  If competition is underused, indecision or delayed action could have a crippling effect on an organization.


The compromiser is seeking ways to make a deal and meet halfway.  In compromise each side’s needs are only partially met.  In the two dimensional space it lies in the middle.  A compromiser demonstrates skills of moderation and negotiation. An overuse of compromise means a loss of the big picture perspective and lack of trust.  If it is underused there may be frequent power struggles and unnecessary confrontations.


Sometimes referred to as the ideal alternative, collaboration is high on the assertiveness and cooperativeness axis.  A collaborator demonstrates reasonableness and the ability to listen, to understand and to empathize. Lack of commitment, low empowerment and loss of innovation can take place when there is insufficient collaboration.  On the other hand, when collaboration is overused there may be too much time spent on trivial matters and extra work created as a result.  Collaboration takes time and energy to correctly execute.

Theory application tips

Knowledge of conflict strategies gives you power and control over your responses.

Give yourself time to think about your response to a conflict situation.

Assess the costs and benefits of using a given strategy.

Determine if you have the behavioral skills to employ a given strategy.

If using a given strategy in a particular situation is new for you, rehearse your response beforehand.

If the issues will impact many parts of the organization allow for enough time to develop a collaborative approach.

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