Are you a pushover or a fighter in the workplace?

We spoke earlier this week about how differing styles have an influence in the workplace and I am passing along some more information today that gives more information about another type of style that affects the working world, conflict.

Conflict; even the word brings chills to some while for others it brings out their most basic emotions and desires.  Some people call Conflict the “breakfast of champions”   in the workplace.  I will spend a little time today talking about how people deal with conflict and my frame of reference will be the TKI, the Thomas-Kilmann Indicator, the most widely used tool for determining conflict style in the workplace.

First, let’s look at the TKI and how it classifies conflict and we will then move into why this is useful.  As you review the TKI you will see that there are five major categories for dealing with conflict:  Accommodating, Avoiding, Compromising, Competing and Collaborating.

The TKI looks at conflict in two dimensions; relationship and issue or results. 

  • Avoidance is the area where both relationship and results are their most diminished.  A preference of Avoidance could represent someone who typically prefers to not participate when the going gets tough with others
  • Competing still maintains a lower level of relationship, but it has an elevated sense of results or dealing with issues.  Those preferring Competing will focus more on the outcome and less on those involved in the process
  • Accommodating  is a style that is higher in the cooperative, people oriented area, but lower in the results area.  Accommodating styles may find the Competing styles hard to understand, and vice versa.  Both styles can be useful, but timing is everything.
  • Compromising is a style that is semi-cooperative and semi-assertive.  A compromising style shows preference for dealing with both results and relationship in the conflict, but not to the highest degree.
  • Collaborating is a style that is full-assertive and full-cooperative.  This style could be the focus of many when dealing with conflict, but it is just one of five styles that can emerge when conflict is apparent.  Collaborating styles are striving for the ultimate win-win in a situation.

Which style is best?  I say that depends.  I could pose a situation where you might play any one of these five.  I’ll save that for the next post.

Have you ever used the TKI?  What is your preferred style?  You can actually prefer more than one.