Dealing With Conflicts In Thomas-Kilmann Way

Conflict is inevitable. It is the lifeblood of the workplace. The key in managing conflict is to be aware of the different modes of conflict. In a globalized world, the ability to manage conflict and manage conflict situations effectively is just as important as being able to manage staff to increase team productivity. However, most managers struggle to manage conflict effectively in their workplaces.


The Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument was developed by the researchers at the University of Illinois, by Ronald E. Thomas, chairman of the Department of Management at the University of South Florida, and Allen R. Kilmann, the Jane and Jack Resnick Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1989. Since the TKI instrument was developed, research on the topic has proliferated. The TKI has now been translated and validated in over nine languages.


Thomas-Kilmann’s Modes For Handling Conflicts


  1. Competing Style 

Competition can be a wonderful thing if it spurs a group of people towards a common goal. However, when competition becomes a force to be reckoned with, it can be a serious challenge on everyone’s working lives. The conflict resolution research of Thomas and Kilmann explored the techniques people use to improve on others and to get their way. The researchers used two sets of tasks that measure the two sides of the competing style, one set aimed at conflict management, the other at interaction style. Their study showed that people are not equally adept at managing both styles, and that conflict management skills are more important than interaction style.


  1. Accommodating 

Every workplace has its fair share of conflict, and while it is important to try and handle situations well, either by giving and accepting feedback or by taking on a more cooperative role, it is also important to acknowledge that sometimes, it is the best approach to just sit back and tolerate the conflict. When that approach is the best way to handle a conflict, it is called accommodation.


  1. Avoiding


The Thomas-Kilmann paradigm is one of the most influential models for conflict resolution that has been developed in the field of communication and conflict management. It is the idea that people are faced with conflict and have to make a decision about how to react to it. In the workplace, there are many situations that require us to avoid. Some provide a safe space to vent about a disagreement or to avoid a potential conflict. Some provide a safe place to leave work and interact with colleagues or clients. Many are interstitial, in which you may need to avoid an area at a certain time, but not avoid coworkers specifically. Some provide a safe place to work on your own. Others require you to self-evaluate, perhaps as a way to avoid a potential conflict.


  1. Collaborating 

Collaborating is the most beneficial outcome in the Thomas-Kilmann conflict model, where assertive and cooperative behaviors are not mutually exclusive. Many people believe that collaboration and conflict are two separate functions that operate independently, but the reality is that collaboration can be a form of conflict — often in small ways.


5. Compromising

Compromising was considered the last outcome in conflict theory, as it is the point at which all conflict is resolved. Compromise means settling for a middle-of-the-road position, the struggle to find one can be an ongoing challenge at work. 


Final Words


Conflict is a fact of life. No matter how seemingly simple your job is, it’s bound to bring up some form of conflict with a coworker, client, or boss. However, a lot of people struggle to manage conflict effectively in their workplaces.


To know more about Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, attend the Compliance Prime webinar. 

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