Conflict: Understand How to Handle It

When I heard that I had a predictable way that I react to conflict, I scoffed. How could an assessment determine how I handle conflict? According to a friend, the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI) identifies a person’s default conflict response. Because I was skeptical, he challenged me to take it and decide for myself. After I took it, I did not believe the results; so, I started assessing my responses in each conflict situation. Well, I was surprised, because the instrument was very accurate.

Assertiveness and Cooperation
According to Thomas and Kilmann, each person responds to conflict in varying degrees of assertiveness and cooperation. Assertiveness represents the amount of decisiveness, forcefulness, and intensity a person utilizes during conflict situations. Cooperation measures how much assistance, support, and teamwork a person is willing to contribute to conflict resolution. A person can span the gamut from being neither assertive nor cooperative to being fully assertive and cooperative. Based on the mixture of these two attitudes, five different responses are possible: Avoiding, Competing, Accommodating, Compromising, and Collaborating. Most people have a combination of two or three conflict resolution modes.

A person who is neither assertive nor cooperative in conflict situations exhibits an Avoiding response to conflict. This person chooses to remove him/herself from the conflict and let others resolve the conflict.

A person who is fully assertive with no cooperation exhibits the Competing conflict response. This person wants to win and is willing to do anything to beat the other person.

The accommodating response is used by those who are fully cooperative but have no assertiveness. They want the conflict to go away and are willing to give away whatever is necessary to accommodate the other person.

The compromising attitude is utilized by someone who is somewhat assertive and somewhat cooperative. This person is willing to give a little if the other person will give a little.

The collaborator is fully assertive and fully cooperative. This individual wants everyone to win and is willing to work until everyone is satisfied.

The TKI (Thomas Kilmann Instrument)
The assessment is a simple self-test that can be completed online or on paper. It takes about 15 minutes to complete and the results are instant. It is available in many languages.

Questions for Further Thought:
1. When you reflect on how you respond to conflict, what do you believe is/are your primary modes of conflict response?
2. When would your normal response be appropriate?
3. When would your normal response be inappropriate?
4. How do you want God to respond to you when you are in conflict with Him?


Download guide here:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top