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Thomas & Killman's Five Conflict Styles

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The way that individuals handle conflict in business or personal relationships is their conflict style. In 1972, the Thomas and Killman styles were introduced as a method for identifying different types of conflict resolution. Understanding the conflict styles of those around you may help you develop strategies for handling disputes.

The Competing Style

The competing style of conflict resolution is aggressive and assertive. This type of conflict style tends to occur without concern for others' opinions. The style has its place in certain situations where decisiveness is necessary. Others may find the style off-putting, and when an individual uses this style too often, the result may be a lack of cooperation or feedback from others, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Collaboration Toolbox.

The Avoiding Style

This style of conflict resolution tends to avoid conflicts altogether, as the name implies. The style delays the conflict, and the person does not attempt to satisfy his own point of view or that of others. The person who uses this style is less assertive and cooperative in conflict situations. Those who use the avoiding style tend to leave situations and conflicts unresolved. But not using the avoiding style when it's necessary may result in hurt feelings in team situations.

The Compromising Style

The compromising style of conflict resolution is cooperative and assertive at the same time. This style helps to find common ground among team members and can find solutions to problems that satisfy everyone. There is a danger if you're seen as not having a firm set of values when compromising too often. Also, this style of conflict resolution finds solutions when time is critical.

The Collaborating Style

The collaborating style is also cooperative and assertive at the same time, but actively seeks to find a resolution to a conflict that is seen as a win for both sides. Others may take advantage of this style of conflict resolution. The style works best in team environments, when listening skills are most important.

The Accommodating Style

With the accommodating style, a person puts aside her own needs and concerns in favor of others. This style is beneficial in situations where it is important to develop good feelings among a group or when it is necessary to keep the peace. Those who use the accommodating style tend to resist change.


Luanne Kelchner works out of Daytona Beach, Florida and has been freelance writing full time since 2008. Her ghostwriting work has covered a variety of topics but mainly focuses on health and home improvement articles. Kelchner has a degree from Southern New Hampshire University in English language and literature.