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Five Different Types of Conflict Styles

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Conflict is the disagreement between two people and how they react to friction. Generally, people are exposed to five different types of conflict and have five different types of reactions, depending on their personalities or experiences. Each type of conflict elicits different types of results. Results and conflicts vary, and different types of resolution are effective on an individual basis.

Competing or Directing Style

This style of conflict is very one-sided. This conflict occurs when one person involved in the disagreement dictates to others. Often, the person instructs others and leaves no opportunity for counterpoints or alternate ideas. This conflict style happens between some bosses and employees or a parent and a child, when the boss or parent maintains a "my way or no way" attitude.

Harmonizing or Accommodating Style

This style of conflict is another unhealthy type of conflict in which a person acts in a non-assertive manner. The only goal of the passive person is to keep the other person happy. The general idea within this conflict is, "What can I do to make you happy, as nothing else matters?" This conflict style is often seen between an unhappy customer and a business manager.

Avoiding Style

This conflict style doesn't perpetuate more problems, nor does it solve problems. People utilizing this style often walk away from a conflict rather than dealing with the issue directly. Married couples often suffer from this type of conflict resolution, as ignored problems foster feelings of neglect from one or both partners. In the avoidance conflict style, the problem is never talked about or dealt with directly, causing the problem to remain and resurface later.

Cooperating or Collaborating Style

This type of conflict style is the style often recommended by psychologists and relationship therapists. In this conflict, the goal is to consider the needs, wants and feelings of each side of the argument. Both parties state what they want and need to resolve a problem, then each party considers solutions together. Often, compromises are the result of a cooperating or collaborating conflict style.

Compromising Style

This style is similar to the cooperating or collaborating style. However, each party offers something to give up rather than asking for specific wants or needs. Each party discusses giving up rights, privileges or desires in exchange for something in return. Children may engage in this type of behavior when dealing with parents or facing conflict with other authoritative figures.


Rebecca Mayglothling has worked directly with toddlers and preschoolers for more than three years. She has published numerous lesson plans online as well as parenting and teaching advice. She continues to keep ahead of parenting methods and is eager to share them through her professional writing.

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