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Conflict Management and Resolution CourseConflict Management and Resolution Course

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Below are some extracts from our Conflict Management and Resolution Course manual.

Conflict and Triggers 

Triggers and Behaviours during Conflict 

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann 

There are two main behavioursobserved when a person is handling conflict. These can be described as: 

  • Assertiveness: the degree to which you try to satisfy your own needs 

  • Cooperativeness: the degree to which you try to satisfy the other person's concerns 

These two behaviourscan be used to define five different conflict resolution strategies, which assume that people choose how cooperative and how assertive to be during a conflict situation. However, the behaviours are normally triggered by a person’s previous experience, understanding of a situation and their relationship with the other person, and they just aren’t managed well. 




  1. Avoiding 

Avoiding is when people just ignore or withdraw from the conflict. They choose this method when the discomfort of confrontation exceeds the potential reward of resolution of the conflict. While this might seem easy to accommodate for the facilitator, people aren’t really contributing anything of value to the conversation and may be withholding worthwhile ideas. When conflict is avoided, nothing is resolved. 

  1. Competing 

Competing is used by people who go into a conflict planning to win. They’re assertive and not cooperative. This method is characterised by the assumption that one side wins and everyone else loses. It doesn’t allow room for diverse perspectives into a well-informed total picture. Competing might work in sports or war, but it’s rarely a good strategy for group problem solving. 

  1. Accommodating 

Accommodating is a strategy where one party gives in to the wishes or demands of another. They’re being cooperative but not assertive. This may appear to be a gracious way to give in when one figures outthey have been wrong about an argument. It’s less helpful when one party accommodates another merely to preserve harmony or to avoid disruption. Like avoidance, it can result in unresolved issues. Too much accommodation can result in groups where the most assertive parties commandeer the process and take control of most conversations. 

  1. Collaborating 

Collaborating is the method used when people are both assertive and cooperative. A group may learn to allow each participant to contribute with the possibility of co-creating a shared solution that everyone can support. 

  1. Compromising 

Another strategy is compromising, where participants are partially assertive and cooperative. The concept is that everyone gives up a little bit of what they want, and no one gets everything they want. The perception of the best outcome when working by compromise is that which “splits the difference.” Compromise is perceived as being fair, even if no one is particularly happy with the final outcome.  

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