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Social Worker

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Conflict is unavoidable
Yes, it's human nature. We even have conflict within ourselves, without any outside interference. Given that we have to live with conflict, how can we adapt and adjust to make the process go more smoothly and create a positive end result? We can take our results from the TKI to learn new conflict resolution skills. Frequently, our emotions and desires can make communication difficult. Use the Thomas-Kilmann questionnaire to learn what others are doing in those situations and learn to understand your own behavior during tense moments. You can master these challenges with knowledge and practice. The Five Conflict-Handling Modes
The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assesses an individual’s behavior in conflict situations—that is, situations in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. In conflict situations, we can describe a person’s behavior along two basic dimensions*: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy his or her own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the other person’s concerns. These two dimensions of behavior can be used to define five methods of dealing with conflict. These five conflict-handling modes are shown below:

Competing is assertive and uncooperative, a power-oriented mode. When competing, an individual pursues his or her own concerns at the other person’s expense, using whatever power seems appropriate to win his or her position. Competing might mean standing up for your rights, defending a position you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.
Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative. When collaborating, an individual attempts to work with the other person to find a solution that fully satisfies the concerns of both. It involves digging into an issue to identify the underlying concerns of the two individuals and to find an alternative that meets both sets of concerns. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights, resolving some condition that would otherwise have them competing for resources, or confronting and trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.
Compromising is intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. When compromising, the objective is to find an expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. Compromising falls on a middle ground between competing and accommodating, giving up more than competing but less than accommodating. Likewise, it addresses an issue more directly than avoiding but doesn’t explore it in as much depth as collaborating. Compromising might mean splitting the difference, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground position. A V O I D I N G
Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative. When avoiding, an individual does not immediately pursue his or her own concerns or those of the other person. He or she does not address the conflict. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.
Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the opposite of competing. When accommodating, an individual neglects his or her own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another’s point of view.

Interpreting Your Scores
When you look at your profile on the TKI, you probably want to know, “What are the correct answers?” In the case of conflict-handling behavior, there are no right or wrong answers. All five modes are useful in some situations: each represents a set of useful social skills. Our conventional wisdom recognizes, for example, that often “Two heads are better than one” (collaborating). But it also says,
“Kill your enemies with kindness” (accommodating), “Split the difference” (compromising), “Leave well enough alone” (avoiding), and “Might makes right” (competing). The effectiveness of a given conflict-handling mode depends on the requirements of the specific situation and the skill with which you use that mode.
You are capable of using all five conflict-handling modes; you cannot be characterized as having a single, rigid style of dealing with conflict. However, most people use some modes more readily than others, develop more skills in those modes, and therefore tend to rely on them more heavily. Many have a clear favorite. The conflict behaviors you use are the result of both your personal predispositions and the requirements of the situations in which you find yourself.
The following pages provide feedback on your conflict-handling modes as indicated by your TKI scores, beginning with your most frequently used mode, collaborating.
To help you judge how appropriate your use of the five modes is for your situation, this section lists a number of uses for each mode. The uses are based on lists generated by company presidents. In addition, because your predispositions may lead you to rely on some conflict behaviors more or less than necessary, this section also lists some diagnostic questions concerning warning signs for the overuse or underuse of each mode.

. Thomas, K.W. and R.H. Kilmann, 1974, The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, Tuxedo, NY: XICOM, Inc.

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