Five Conflict Handling Styles

There are several different coping mechanisms to help you deal with conflict. Most people have a favorite way of dealing with difficulty and conflict, according to the Institute for Conscious Change. For the most favorable outcome, consider which conflict handling style is appropriate for the disagreement at hand.


Cooperating means collaborating with others to find a solution that can satisfy everyone. The point of cooperation is to take everyone's concerns seriously and to discuss all aspects of the conflict. This is a good conflict-handling style to use when you are concerned about the person or people involved, and when you feel strongly about your side of the argument. Cooperation may take a lot of time, so it is not the best option when a decision must be made right away.


If you need to resolve a conflict more quickly, compromising might be a good solution. With compromise, each person gives a little bit up in order for the ultimate solution to be acceptable to everyone. You will not get your way entirely with compromise, so this is a style that is best to use when the answer to the problem is not of utmost importance to you.


Also called "directing" or "competing," forcing means you insist on getting your way. If you use forcing as a conflict resolution style too often, people will not want to enter into disagreements with you, and it may push people away. In some cases, forcing is necessary; when you are sure that your way is the only safe or effective way to proceed and you must make a decision immediately, you may need to direct the outcome.


Accommodating, or harmonizing, means allowing the other person to make the decision. This is a good resolution when the outcome of the conflict does not matter much to you, or if you think that getting your own way is not as important as preserving the relationship. If you find yourself accommodating others too often, though, you may feel resentful, or feel that you do not have any say in decision-making.


When you avoid a conflict, you allow others to handle it without your involvement. If the disagreement does not intensely concern or affect you, it may be best to simply avoid participating in the conflict at all. Another reason to avoid a conflict is if anger is involved--if you or another person are very angry, avoiding the disagreement temporarily can allow you both time to cool down. As with accommodating, it is important not to rely on avoiding conflict involving matters that do mean a lot to you.