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Online Toolkit

Part 4 - Key Concepts, Models, and Tools


Dealing with Conflict

There are many ways to deal with conflict. Learning about the alternative means of handling conflict gives us a wider choice of actions to take, and makes us better able to adapt our responses to the situation.

It is said that in any given conflict situation, our way of response is based on two important aspects of how we see the conflict: the goal or the issue which the conflict is about; and the relationship that we have with the person or group we are in conflict with. The way we approach conflict depends on the level of importance we put into these two factors. Based on the chart below, we will see that our response reflects how much we value our goal or relationship.




What are the different ways we deal with conflict?


AVOIDANCE (FLIGHT):
We MOVE AWAY or withdraw from the situation of conflict.
We allow the other party to get away with his/her behaviour.
We hope that the conflict will disappear.
WIN-LOSE

AGGRESSION (FIGHT):
We MOVE AGAINST our opponent, escalating the conflict.
We want to do things our way, using force to overpower our adversary.
We view winning as an indication of strength, losing as a weakness.
WIN-LOSE or LOSE-LOSE.

ACCOMMODATION (GIVE UP or GIVE IN):
We give up our goals to maintain "harmony" in the relationship.
We give in because we realised that the other person is right.
We concede because we have very little chance of winning.
WIN-LOSE.

COMPROMISE (GIVE HALF):
We negotiate to find the middle ground.
We give up part of our goals to protect what is most important.
50 - 50.

COLLABORATE (FACE):
We MOVE TOWARDS the adversary.
We make dialogue, negotiating for a mutually beneficial solution.
We collaborate in finding constructive ways to solve the conflict.
WIN-WIN.