Conflict Management: Utilizing the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Management Styles

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Throughout the course of this learning experience, great attention to the idiosyncrasies of conflict management has been taken into account and studied. Conflict results in a situation in which the intentions, opinions, actions, and behaviors of two or more individuals collide (Thomas & Kilmann, 1974). This is a typical situation for those in the workplace. Conflict can develop over time, or in the moment. How conflict is dealt with is vast, and we all may employ several different methods depending on the situation and varying personality types. Conflict can result in the form of arguments, personal attacks, workplace bullying, and dissension amongst a group of peers. The ways in which one chooses to manage conflict are incredibly important in reaching the best possible solution for the situation.

The different types of conflict management have been identified and discussed by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann in their conflict instrument model. The conflict instrument model allows one to identify their conflict management styles, and to see which styles one gravitates toward (Thomas et al., 1974). This can aid in gaining insight into one’s realistic capabilities in future management, and help shed light on any areas of detriment in which one may want to work toward becoming more assertive or less, depending on the type of conflict. One was able to take the conflict measurement study and analyze the results. Of the types of conflict measured there are the management styles of competition, collaboration, compromise, accommodation and avoidance (Thomas et al., 1974). The percentages toward which one reacts in each of these conflict management styles are shown, allowing one deeper insight into oneself.

The types of conflict management one scored highest in were a bit shocking. One knows the conflict management styles most likely to achieve positive results but did not always score highest in those areas. I scored highest in the conflict management styles of accommodation and collaboration, and lowest on the styles of compromise and competition. What one did not expect to score as highly in was avoidance. I formerly thought of one’s conflict management style to be diplomatic and fair, however, one does tend to want to avoid conflict at the beginning. That may be a good tactic in certain circumstances in which the parties involved need to cool down (Axelrod, 1999). As a manager, however, it would be wise to act in a compromising and collaborative way rather than that of avoidance.

Collaboration was the style one scored highest in. This is easy to see, as one believes the synthesis of a variety of viewpoints can aid in reaching the truest truth and best possible outcome. If there is a conflict situation in which both parties could be accomplishing greater results through working together, I tend to be great at bringing this out and utilizing it (Axelrod, 1999). This obviously cannot be the solution in all types of situations, however, it is a win-win if it can be applied to any conflict correctly. In terms of accommodation, this doesn’t always work in my favor and ties in a bit with the avoidance of conflict. It is oftentimes easier to try to smooth things over in the face of conflict to not create more. This is something one has become accustomed to doing in working in the hospitality industry. It is a common best practice of management to use the accommodation approach when dealing with dissatisfied guests.

The styles of conflict management one scored lowest on pertain to that of competition and compromise. They may have to do with a lack of assertiveness on my end. While I can display this when acting in cooperation, it seems to elude me in other situations. One knows it is always best to be assertive in working with others. One has no problem in doing this when it truly counts, however, in one’s own personal life, it is usually a result of a passive-aggressive nature to avoid and accommodate until one acts out occasionally in a competitive manner that ends up resulting in compromise (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). If one could simply deal with the conflict head-on and be assertive in the first place, a compromise could be achieved with one conflict management step rather than going through all three.


American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Axelrod, R. (1999). Using the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Management Styles. [pamphlet]

Thomas, K., and Kilmann, R. (1974). Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Retrieved from