Behavior in conflict situations

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Dealing with conflicts is important for the project’s success. Conflicts will inevitably arise, there is only the question of how to deal with them. Common sense often has it that there is only one way to a solution. In most cases there are in fact several ways of how to deal with a conflict. Which one to choose depends on the particular model of management and coordination and to which ‘conflict type’ one belongs. Equal teams should consider this.
Behaviors in conflicts - systematical overview

Fight or Competitive

This is the classic win/lose situation, where the strength and power of one person wins the conflict. It has its place, but anyone using it needs to be aware that it will create a loser and if that loser has no outlet for expressing their concerns, then it will lead to bad feeling.


This is the ideal outcome: a win/win situation. However, it requires input of time from those involved to work through the difficulties, and find a way to solve the problem that is agreeable to all.

Compromise or Negotiation

This is likely to result in a better result than win/lose, but it’s not quite win/win. Both parties give up something, in favor of an agreed mid-point solution. It takes less time than collaboration, but is likely to result in less commitment to the outcome.

Denial or Avoidance

This is where everyone pretends there is no problem. It’s helpful if those in conflict need time to ‘cool down’ before any discussion or if the conflict is unimportant, but cannot be used if the conflict won’t just die down. It will create a lose/lose situation, since there will still be bad feeling, but no clearing the air through discussion, and results, in Transactional Analysis terms, in ‘I’m not OK, you’re not OK’.

Smoothing Over the Problem or Accommodative

On the surface, harmony is maintained, but underneath, there is still conflict. It’s similar to the situation above, except that one person is probably OK with this smoothing, while the other remains in conflict, creating a win/lose situation again. It can work where preserving a relationship is more important than dealing with the conflict right now, but is not useful if others feel the need to deal with the situation.


Kory Floyd; Interpersonal Communication: The whole story, 2019

Anna Zakaryan

Expert and facilitator for conflict management, project manager at Creative Armenia.