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Handling Conflict for Career Success

Conflict. Some of you may have cringed just reading the word. It’s not a favorite topic for many, but the truth is, it exists in every organization.

Why? Because organizations are run by diverse people with differing personalities, opinions and ways of doing things.

What to do? How to do it? Why? Which to prioritize? According to what timeline?

Conflict is any situation in which one person’s concerns or desires differ from those of another person. Many of us have developed modes of dealing with conflict early in our lives. We tend to go back to those same modes time after time because it has worked for us in the past; it’s comfortable. But sometimes the situation calls for another approach. And it might require you to “build some muscle” using skills you aren’t accustomed to using.

How you respond to and resolve conflict could very well help or hinder your career.

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is a model for handling conflict. The model identifies five conflict handling modes, with varying degrees of assertiveness and cooperativeness:

  • Competing – “win-lose” approach – assertively working to achieve your goals without seeking to cooperate with the other party

  • Collaborating – “win-win” approach – seeking to find a third alternative that is better than what either of you came to the table with

  • Compromising – an approach that calls for giving up some things in order to “win” what is most important

  • Accommodating – “lose-win” approach – forgoing what you want in favor of the other party

  • Avoiding – no solution decided upon – situation stays “as is”

Did one of these modes jump out at you as the best way to handle conflict? That mode is likely your “go-to” style.

Each of these conflict management styles can actually be very effective, depending on the situation. By knowing your default style and the appropriate time to apply each approach, you can become more self-aware and more skilled at handling conflict.

Interested in learning more?

Contact Elsey Consulting Group to deliver a Conflict Handling workshop for your team/organization. This workshop will incorporate the TKI assessment tool, measuring each employee’s preferred conflict handling style(s), and will help them:

  • Become more aware of their conflict mode(s)

  • Recognize the conflict modes of others

  • Assess conflict situations

  • Practice using different conflict handling modes and applying it to their role(s)



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