Rajiv was crestfallen, his meetings with the Principal had not gone well.
As the cultural secretary of his College, he along with a representation of students had enthusiastically drawn up a list of events for the culturals.
The students proposed a Rock show and dance program, but the Principal turned it down, several appeals had not yielded the desired result. Rajiv’s reputation was at stake, leading to disappointment.
Managing conflicts is an important part and life will be rather boring if everybody agrees. Conflict situations are not dysfunctional, they help you to come up with the best solutions and improve creativity. Conflicts can happen in several ways; it can be as simple as someone not agreeing to your point of view to someone trying to obstruct your needs. In this context, it is important to state that Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann came up with a model, popularly called the Thomas-Kilmann model. This model states that when there is incompatibility between individuals then the behavior is best described on two dimensions, assertiveness or concern for self, that is the extent to which a person will go to satisfy his own needs or concerns and the other is cooperativeness or concern for others, the extent to which he will satisfy others' concerns.
A graphical portrayal will show how differing degrees of these two behaviors will contribute to five conflict management styles. First, when your assertiveness is at the highest and your cooperativeness is at the lowest, then it becomes a win /lose kind of a situation, where you have to compete, because nothing else will work. If something is extremely important and your time or values are being compromised, you have to employ this style. However if you overuse this, you might be seen as aggressive and uncompromising.
If you show low concern both for self and others, then you are adopting a lose/lose style called avoiding. If the outcome either way does not matter to you, then this style is good, but too much of this will result in you being seen as non committed, and non value adding.
Next if your high on cooperativeness and low on assertiveness it will be a lose/win kind of style which is called accommodating, this style is good when the relationship is more important than the outcome, or if giving in this time will help you to gain credits with the other person that you can utilize later, but remember too much of this can make people think that you are submissive and timid.
When your concern for self is as high as your concern for others then you are thinking win/win, and this behavior is called collaborating, this is the most productive style of conflict management that one could adopt, provided you have the time.
When competing is not working out, and you don’t want to accommodate, but still the matter is very important and cannot be avoided and there isn’t much time to collaborate, then you can move to the fifth style of conflict management, meeting each other half way, this is called compromise. However, it is up to us to analyse the situation completely and then adopt the most appropriate style.
R A Nadesan
is an executive coach, behavioural and soft skills trainer with a pan India presence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org