Approaches to Conflict Management

Topics: Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, Dispute resolution, Conflict style inventory Pages: 22 (5209 words) Published: October 9, 2008
“Don’t confuse conflict with indecision, stress, disagreement, or other common experiences that may cause, or be caused by conflict.”

- Anonymous

"The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph"

-Thomas Paine

“…the stage when people have got know to each other a bit and norms of conduct have been established and there is agreement of kind about what the purpose of the group is. This stage is marked by conflict and a “struggle for power”... The stage of conflict is absolutely necessary if the group is to be more than a “joining of forces” or “federation”, and if it is to generate some new quality that wasn’t there before; conflict is necessary to bring out the different conceptions that have hitherto lain dormant…”

- Stanford & Roak

Table of Contents


What Is Conflict?4
Reasons for Conflict5

Conflict Management6
Conflict and Unit Performance6
Conflict Resolution Techniques7
Conflict Simulation Techniques7

Case Study8

Conflict Style Inventory10
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument11
Two-dimensional Model of Conflict-handling Behavior 12
Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory13
Sample Test13

The Universal Approach To Handling Conflict16
The Right Attitude16
The Right Skills17
Basic Steps to Handle Conflict17



“A conflict exists when two people wish to carry out acts which are mutually inconsistent. They may both want to do the same thing, such as eat the same apple, or they may want to do different things where the different things are mutually incompatible, such as when they both want to stay together but one wants to go to the cinema and the other to stay at home. A conflict is resolved when some mutually compatible set of actions is worked out. The definition of conflict can be extended from individuals to groups (such as states or nations), and more than two parties can be involved in the conflict. The principles remain the same.” (M.Nicholson: Rationality and the Analysis of International Conflict. 1992:11)

The analysis, prevention, management, or resolution of conflicts does not aim at the elimination of conflict, and aims even less at the elimination of opposing interests. Its aim is the search for such forms of conflict behaviour which allow a non-violent handling of interest oppositions in an orderly, pre-arranged process, the course and result of which will be accepted by all parties involved be it out of well-understood, rationally calculated self-interest or out of respect for the “shadow of the future” (i.e. the expectation of a retaliatory action of the other side if one disappoints its expectations).

This research paper will answer what conflict is and why it occurs and will highlight the right ‘approaches to handling conflict’ and use it as a positive influence.

What Is Conflict?

conflict —n. 1. a. state of opposition. B. fight, struggle. 2. (often foll. by of) clashing of opposed interests etc. —v. clash; be incompatible.

“The interaction and clash of actions, goals, and desires”

1con•flict -1 a: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands 3: the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction

A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.

Feelings involved in conflict:

Negative Feelings Before or During
ConflictPositive Feelings After Proper Handling of Conflict HurtCared for
IgnoredListened to
ConfusedClear with things
IsolatedMore intimate with...

Bibliography: Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in The Managerial Grid (Houston: Gulf Publishing, 1964, 1994).
Stephen P. Robbins “Organizational Behaviour”
Adapted from “Conflict and Conflict Management” by Kenneth Thomas in The Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, edited by Marvin Dunnette (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1976)
This version was published by Mennonite Conciliation Service in its "Mediation and Facilitation Training Manual", 4th ed., 2000 (Akron, PA: MCS), p. 64-66
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