Communication Skills BlogThe Five Best Options When Conflicts Arise
Have you ever found yourself in a meeting discussing different strategies or maybe on a project team with a deadline fast approaching? Tensions may be building with people arguing over the best course of action to take or direction to go. As the temperature in the room quickly rises, everyone seems to be passionately advocating for their ideas. Each feels their position is the best, so they dig in their heels and don’t really care to listen to other options. Progress comes to a halt. No one seems willing to budge. Things can be said that can’t be taken back, no matter how much you apologize afterwards.

To break the impasse, take a deep breath and look at the components of any conflict:

The issue: the task or thing on which you disagree.
The relationship: the parties that disagree and their relationship to each other.
The timeframe: how long you have to deal with the disagreement.
Once you have considered these components, you can choose how to deal with the situation. There are essentially five options when addressing any conflict:

AVOID-—postpone making any decisions at this time.
COMPETE—fight for what you feel is right. (I win-you lose.)
ACCOMMODATE—let the other person have what they want. (They win-you lose.)
COMPROMISE—both you and the other person give up something. (Both lose.)
COLLABORATE—continue to work through and dialogue, looking for a win/win, creative solution where everyone gets what they need. (Both win.)
Obviously, your first choice should be to collaborate when possible. However, you will often have to use other options. What is the “right” choice? It really depends on what you need to achieve in each situation. When people are passionate about their positions and tensions start to rise, rational thought often goes out the window. To stay focused on the real issue and manage conflict successfully, analyze the components of the conflict. Being aware of the components can help you make a conscious choice about which option to choose, rather than going by a gut reaction in the heat of the moment. By focusing on the issue and not the emotion, you’re more apt to achieve an appropriate result without damaging relationships or reputations. There will always be conflict. Learning to manage conflict successfully will make all the difference going forward.

For more information on handling conflict and the tools of persuasion, please visit our website at and check out Communispond’s courses on Persuasive Dialogue™ and Executive Communication Coaching™.


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