Conflict participants face the basic choice of avoiding or engaging in a conflict. This choice leads to the enactment of five individual styles of conflict management: avoidance, competition, compromise, accommodation, and collaboration. The specific styles are discussed as to their advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, interaction dynamics in some detail and concluded by noting that flexibility in style choice enhances your chance for productive conflict. You must be cautious about overinterpreting individual styles. Measures of styles depend on whether you are rating yourself or someone else, are affected by gender, and suffer from social desirability biases. Further, style measures are not process oriented and give the impression of more consistency in behavior than there is across contexts. Finally, the measures give an impression of measuring an underlying trait (which they do not), and they ignore the interaction dynamics–one of the key determiners of what style someone will use.

  1. What is your primary conflict style? Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this conflict style as outlined in the text.
  2. When might it be problematic for you to maintain your primary conflict style?
  3. How would your communication style be likely to change in the following relational contexts?
    • With a parent
    • A best friend
    • A supervisor at work
    • A roommate

4.How are conflict styles like tools in a toolbox? What tool do you overuse? Under-use?