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Interpersonal Conflict Handling Styles

By Owen Pearson ; Updated June 13, 2017
There are several styles of handling interpersonal conflict.

Interpersonal conflict occurs in any setting where two or more people must work together, such as corporations, marriages, friendships and entrepreneurial endeavors. According to the Management Help website, interpersonal conflict is essential for business productivity and personal growth. While there are several styles of handling interpersonal conflict, some are more effective than others. The style you choose can affect the resolution of conflict, as well as the willingness of participants to work together.

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According to the Wright State University website, forcing is a common method for handling interpersonal conflict. This style occurs most often in business, although it can occur in personal relationships such as marriages as well. Forcing involves using authority or power to obtain a resolution without regard to the other parties' needs and wants. While this style can provide a quick resolution to conflict, it rarely satisfies other involved parties.


Accommodating takes the opposite approach of forcing. When using this style, you satisfy the needs of the other parties without satisfying your own, notes the Wright State University website. Like forcing, accommodating can quickly end a conflict. However, it can also involve giving in to unreasonable demands, which is rarely conducive to long-term interpersonal harmony.


The avoidance style of approaching interpersonal conflict involves withdrawing yourself from the disagreement according to the Management Help website. This approach does nothing to resolve the conflict. As a result, the conflict often continues to build.


Like forcing, the competing style involves participants who refuse to acknowledge the needs and wants of the other involved parties, notes the Management Help website. These parties typically lack the authority to force a resolution, so the conflict continues to exist. In some cases, those who use the competing style take advantage of accommodating parties to get what they can from the conflict.


People who use the compromising style of handling interpersonal conflict attempt to find a solution that is partially satisfactory to all parties involved. The resolution typically does not fully satisfy any of the parties according to the Wright State University website. All involved parties must make concessions; however, this approach can help expedite resolution.


Although the collaborating style is not as efficient as other styles of handling interpersonal conflict, it can produce a resolution that fully satisfies all parties according to the Management Help website. All participants are encouraged to act as a team and to find a solution together. This approach often produces a resolution that none of the parties previously considered.

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About the Author

Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.

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