The Thomas-Kilmann Theory on Conflict

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The Thomas-Kilmann Theory on Conflict
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The Thomas-Kilmann Theory defines five ways people deal with conflict and identifies when each way is effective, according to The theory was used to develop the TKI, or Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which measures conflict-handling behaviour.

Competing and Collaborating

The competing mode is about winning. It is used by a highly assertive person who is convinced his way is right. It can work well when quick, decisive action is required. The collaborating mode is highly assertive but also highly cooperative, used by those who want to work together.

Compromising, Avoiding and Accommodating

The collaborating mode is moderately assertive and cooperative, seeking to find common ground and temporary solutions; it is used when time is constrained. The avoiding mode is about buying time and delaying a final decision. It is neither assertive nor cooperative, but it may reduce tensions. The accommodating mode is generous, highly cooperative and yielding to others. It can create good will and is more common when the issues are less important.

Using the Model

Ralph Kilmann and Kenneth Thomas of UCLA developed their model of conflict resolution in the early 1970s and published it as part of a training program in conflict management, according to Kilmann Diagnostics. The TKI consists of a self-scored questionnaire with 30 pairs of questions. It helps respondents assess themselves and suggests what modes might be changed to match a given situation.

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