Conflict occurs when two or more parties disagree with a principle or thought process, and resolution is needed before moving on. When it comes to relationships or workplace settings, conflict is something that cannot be avoided. There are five distinct conflict resolution styles that people use in team environments such as work, classroom settings or sports activities; however, not every style fits every situation.
Avoidance occurs when one or more parties avoids engaging or addressing a situation. The advantage of avoidance is that it can be useful if conflict will not produce a resolution toward the goal or the conflict is perceived as minimal. Avoidance can be used to resolve short-term goals. The disadvantage of avoidance is that by not addressing conflicts, long-term goals may not be met. Avoiding conflicts may also cause a festering of tension, which can result in a goal-stopping event, such as a blow-out argument.
Accommodation allows one party to do what another party wants when a conflict arises.The advantage to accommodation is that conflict can be quickly resolved, which helps with short-term goals. The accommodating party may also feel like they have contributed goodwill toward the goal. However, accommodation can also lead to lack of self-esteem within the accommodating party. The winning party may also begin to take advantage. Another disadvantage is that the accommodating party may end up sacrificing a principle that hampers meeting the long-term goal.
Compromise exists when two parties try to find a halfway point for resolution. One advantage is that the outcome can generally be seen as “fair” to both parties because each gets something in return. This can also solve a short-term conflict while laying the foundation to resolving a long-term problem. The disadvantage of a compromise is that neither party leaves the negotiating table completely happy. Since compromises are short-term, they usually indicate that another conflict will occur in the future.
Collaboration is the win-win form of conflict resolution in which, at the end of negotiations, both parties feel they have gained something and no one feels as if they lost something. Collaboration is also effective with long-term solutions. The disadvantage of collaboration is that it can be time consuming since everyone must leave happy. Also, both parties must be interested in advancing toward the same goal for collaboration to work.
Competition occurs when one party absolutely feels they have the authority to be right and the other party must give in regardless of feeling. For example, a military drill instructor has absolute authority over his recruits. Competition conflict resolution works if authority must be established among parties to complete the short- or long-term goals. This also fosters confidence for the winning party in competitive environments. Short-term goals where there is little room or time for discussion can be met quickly. A significant disadvantage is that the losing party may bear a grudge leading to another conflict. The personal stake in the competitive nature can negatively effect relationships.