5.11: Conflict Management Styles

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1 5.11: Conflict Management Styles Student Objective Students will recognize which of five conflict management styles they gravitate toward when in conflict. Overview Throughout their academic lives, students are exposed to a variety of conflicts and a variety of behaviors for how to deal with conflict. It is important when building leadership skills to provide research on the most commonly accessed styles and to allow students to discover which is their most effective style. Materials/Set-Up Handouts: 5.11a: Five Conflict Management Styles Overview 5.11b: Five Conflict Management Styles Table 5.11c: Five Conflict Management Styles Graphic Instructional Steps 1. Engage students in a quickwrite: How would you best describe how to deal with conflict with the following people? Family Members Friends/Peers Teachers/Principal Coaches 2. Provide time for students to reflect and share with a partner. Then, open the conversation up to the whole group. 3. Stress that the goal of this activity is to provide background information on the five most commonly accessed conflict management styles. 4. Choose which handout best meets the needs of the group and supply each student with the related handout. 5. Engage students in reviewing the five conflict styles in small groups and request that they take Cornell notes on these styles, for future reference. 6. Bring the whole group back together to make connections and ensure that all of them are clear on each style. Assign groups a specific conflict management style and a specific group of people. Examples include: Group 1: Competing, Family Members Group 2: Competing, Friends/Peers Group 3: Competing, Teachers/Principal Group 4: Competing, Coaches Group 5: Accommodating, Family Members Group 6: Accommodating, Friends/Peers Continue assigning all styles and all groups to match the number of student groups. 293

2 7. Ensure that all five styles are represented in the groups. Depending on the number of students, not all specific groups of people (e.g., family members, coaches, etc.) may be represented for this activity. 8. Instruct groups to brainstorm a realistic conflict between a student and the assigned group (e.g., family members, coaches, etc.) and to develop a role-play that depicts the resolution of that conflict using the assigned conflict management style. 9. Provide time for students to develop, practice, and finalize their role-plays. 10. Incorporate the role-play groups into the class schedule until all groups have performed. 11. Once all of the groups have performed, debrief with the whole class, utilizing the following questions: Did different styles work better than others at producing a positive outcome? Which styles worked better with which group of people? Which style do the leaders in your life naturally access? ELL Integration: Consider having a variety of words that students should use in a word bank when students are working to resolve a conflict. 294 Extension To increase rigor, encourage students to explore, compare, and contrast the conflict management styles of three leaders in the world. To increase scaffolding, provide sentence frames, visual cues, or word banks to support students through the development process. To integrate technology, engage students by designing and developing public service announcement videos on the five conflict management styles. AVID Critical Thinking and Engagement: A Schoolwide Approach

3 Handout 5.11a Five Conflict Management Styles Overview Thomas and Kilmann (1974) identified five conflict management styles: 1. Accommodating This is when you cooperate to a high degree. It may be at your own expense and actually work against your own goals, objectives, and desired outcomes. This approach is effective when the other party is the expert or has a better solution. It can also be effective for preserving future relations with the other party. 2. Avoiding This is when you simply avoid the issue. You aren t helping the other party reach their goals, and you aren t assertively pursuing your own. This works when the issue is trivial or when you have no chance of winning. It can also be effective when the issue would be very costly or when the atmosphere is emotionally charged, and you need to create some space. Sometimes, issues will resolve themselves, but hope is not a strategy. In general, avoiding is not a good long-term strategy. 3. Collaborating This is when you partner or pair up with the other party to achieve both of your goals. It s how you break free of the win-lose paradigm and seek the win-win. This can be effective for complex scenarios where you need to find a novel solution. This can also mean reframing the challenge to create a bigger space and room for everybody s ideas. The downside is that it requires a high degree of trust, and reaching a consensus can require a lot of time and effort to get everybody on board and to synthesize all of the ideas. 4. Competing This is the win-lose approach. You act in a very assertive way to achieve your goals, without seeking to cooperate with the other party, and it may be at the expense of the other party. This approach may be appropriate for emergencies when time is of the essence or when you need quick, decisive action, and people are aware of and support the approach. 5. Compromising This is the lose-lose scenario where neither party really achieves what they want. This requires a moderate level of assertiveness and cooperation. It may be appropriate for scenarios where you need a temporary solution or where both sides have equally important goals. The trap is falling into compromising as an easy way out when collaborating would produce a better solution. By knowing your own default patterns, you improve your self-awareness. Once you are aware of your own patterns, you can pay attention to whether they are working for you, and you can explore alternatives. By using a scenario-based approach, you can choose more effective conflict management styles and test their effectiveness. Modified and reproduced by special permission of the Publisher, CPP, Inc., Mountain View, CA from the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument by Kenneth W. Thomas & Ralph H. Kilmann. Copyright 1974, 2002 by CPP, Inc. All rights reserved. Further reproduction is prohibited without the Publisher s written consent. 295

4 Handout 5.11b Five Conflict Management Styles Table Style Uses Danger of Inappropriate Use Strengths)and)Advantages) Weaknesses)and)Disadvantages ) ) Appropriate) Inappropriate Accommodating To build the relationship When the issue is relatively unimportant to you, but important to the other person When you have less experience or expertise than the other person When preserving harmony and avoiding disruption are especially important Your needs are not met. You may begin to feel taken advantage of and resentful. Avoiding Collaborating Competing Compromising When the issue or relationship is unimportant To prevent an immediate conflict (e.g., inappropriate time/place or feelings are escalated) When someone else can resolve the conflict more effectively When you have little chance of satisfying your concerns (e.g., national policy, someone s basic personality, etc.) To find a solution that integrates both sets of concerns, as they are both important To merge insights from people with different perspectives on a problem When commitment and buy-in is needed to implement a solution When hard feelings have been interfering with an interpersonal, working relationship When quick, decisive action is important, such as emergencies When your core values need to be defended When it is important to you to have it your own way When an agreement needs to be reached; time is important When mutually exclusive goals prevent collaboration To achieve temporary settlements to complex issues As a back-up mode when collaboration or competition is unsuccessful Conflict may fester until it escalates. The relationship remains superficial. May waste time and energy on issues that are unimportant As the process can take longer, it may frustrate some people. May weaken relationships if it is perceived that you won and the other person lost You receive less input and ideas from others. Others may not buy in and may try to sabotage the decision. Nobody really gets what they want or need. The focus becomes what you did not manage to get regarding needs/wants. Problems re-occur as they were not fully explored and resolutions found didn t truly work for those involved. Modified and reproduced by special permission of the Publisher, CPP, Inc., Mountain View, CA from the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument by Kenneth W. Thomas & Ralph H. Kilmann. Copyright 1974, 2002 by CPP, Inc. All rights reserved. Further reproduction is prohibited without the Publisher s written consent. 296 AVID Critical Thinking and Engagement: A Schoolwide Approach

5 Handout 5.11c Five Conflict Management Styles Graphic Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument Low High ASSERTIVE Competing Avoiding Compromise Collaborating Accommodating Low!!!!!!!!!!!COOPERATIVE High Modified and reproduced by special permission of the Publisher, CPP, Inc., Mountain View, CA from the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument by Kenneth W. Thomas & Ralph H. Kilmann. Copyright 1974, 2002 by CPP, Inc. All rights reserved. Further reproduction is prohibited without the Publisher s written consent. 297

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