5 Conflict management strategies

In the long run, conflict is inevitable in any situation which involves more than one person. This, of course, includes the workplace. Conflict can arise for a multitude of causes, from differences of opinion to interfering goals. When we get involved in a conflict, we need to understand the importance of managing it properly. Doing otherwise can lead to permanently damaging our relationship with the other party, lower productivity, or a tensioned environment.  For businesses this means a serious blow, as a seemingly unimportant conflict can seriously hinder their activities.

This is why understanding the basic five conflict management strategies is very important for both regular employees and business owners, who can help mediate a conflict they are not directly involved in.

1. Avoiding

This is one of the most dangerous conflict management strategies, because one or both of the two parties avoid discussing the conflict. Ignoring the conflict doesn’t resolve it as hoped, however. Confrontation is necessary. This strategy is only useful when implementing a temporarily unpopular measure by the leadership, when the problem will go away by itself after a while.

2. Accomodating

This strategy involves making the concessions the other party wants. It can be useful when the issues are unimportant, but used long-term the conceding side will become frustrated with the situation and resentful.

3.Collaboration

This strategy focuses on finding a solution both parties are happy with. It’s a win-win situation, but because of the time investment it requires, it is not suited for a number of situations, including those in which fast action is paramount.

4. Compromise

This strategy leads to both side giving up some of the things they asked for in order to reach a solution. It’s a strategy best use when both parties hold similar levels of power, and when both parties have something to lose – during a negotiation, for instance.

5. Competition

Treating the conflict like a competition means assertively trying to get your demands met with no consideration for the other party’s expectations. It’s not a strategy that should be used very often, as it can lead to resentment. It’s generally suited for crisis situations, or adopting unpopular measures.