Conflict Management Styles
Not all conflict situations can be quickly handled and in some situations a manager needs to adopt a series of approaches or use several “conflict management styles” in order to get an acceptable outcome or result.
When individuals get to the point where they are openly arguing and straying into publicly unacceptable behaviors (such as demeaning the other person, raising his or her voice or using inappropriate body language, such as pointing at the other person), a manager can help the individuals to recognize that there is a better way to try to reach some kind of agreement. The following three-step approach or intervention strategy may therefore work well in many conflict situations that have reached “boiling point”:
A three-step conflict management styles approach:
- Initially, a commanding or “usurping style” as the first response by the manager shifts the focus quickly to the third-party and away from the “protagonists.”
- Next, a much softer voiced calming or “suppressing style” often works well as it gets the discussion into more reasonable territory and takes the “heat” out of the situation.
- At the final intervention stage, either a bargaining or “exchanging style” can work well (where there is room to engage in fair exchange in the circumstances). However, a better approach at this stage is to adopt a collaborative or “integrative” conflict handling style where both contending parties are invited into neutral territory to look for new solutions (and hopefully mutually beneficial ones).
Of course, the manager may well end up in a coaching or mediating role in these circumstances and may therefore have to continue to play the “referee” to ensure that the dispute does not revert to bickering and argument. However, this is usually a preferable outcome and with a little time can often lead to an acceptable path of action for all concerned.
The featured video clip is a short excerpt from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder eLearning program, Conflict Resolution: An RSB eLearning Course.