There are five key conflict management strategies: Postpone, Enforce, Accommodate, Compromise, and Explore.
Most people have a most preferred and least preferred strategy when handling conflict. What are yours?
1. The Postpone Strategy involves delaying discussion until a later time. At that time, you may need to adopt one of the other four strategies to manage the differences. Choose the Postpone Strategy when:
- there are heightened emotions around the issues
- you don’t have all the information needed
2. The Enforce Strategy involves doing what is necessary to support a non‐negotiable point of view. Choose the Enforce Strategy when:
- you must stand firm, such as in the case of an ethics violation
- the decision has already been made by company executives
- quick, decisive action is crucial
3. The Accommodate Strategy involves going along with another’s viewpoint or desires. It sometimes involves giving in because you believe it is a good way to enhance or preserve the relationship. Choose the Accommodate Strategy when:
- there is a subject matter expert who has more insight than you
- the other party has strong ownership and it is less important to you
- the stronger need is to preserve the relationship
4. The Compromise Strategy involves both parties agreeing to small concessions so they can resolve their differences. It is sometimes referred to as splitting the difference. Choose the Compromise Strategy when:
- you must reach a solution soon
- a temporary settlement to a complex issue is acceptable
5. When using the Explore Strategy, both parties work together to create and explore new ideas. Choose the Explore Strategy when:
- you need a Win/Win resolution
- everyone’s concerns and feeling need to be considered
- the decision is so important that it needs everyone’s full commitment
All five strategies have their time and place. When choosing a conflict management strategy, consider the importance of the issue, the urgency of the issue and the power of the people involved.
Cathy Bolger, Ph.D. is a San Diego-based trainer, coach and author who provides professional and personal development to a wide range of companies and individuals. Her most requested trainings include Presentation Skills, Meeting Management and Facilitation Skills, and Conflict Management Skills. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-294-2511.