Conflict avoidance styles and tactics

Written by timothy burns
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Conflict avoidance styles and tactics
Avoiding conflict does not resolve relationship problems. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Conflict is an unavoidable part of life. However, rather than addressing conflict head-on and finding proactive ways to resolve disagreements, some individuals find a number of ways to avoid conflict. Conflict avoidance tendencies successfully sweep arguments under the rug, but the strategy works only for a short period before conflict resurfaces in other areas of a relationship.

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Passive Avoidance, Aggression

Passive avoidance, sometimes called passive-aggressive behaviour, is a sign that individuals do not want to address conflict openly. Passive-aggressive behaviours surface as individuals intentionally or subconsciously make choices that directly impacts the person they are fighting. Passive-aggressive behaviour can be as simple as arriving late or not turning in work assignments on time. Passive-aggressive individuals find ways of behaving that intentionally annoys the other person.


Conflict avoidance tendencies can manifest themselves as one party accommodates the other. Regardless of the person's individual desires or feelings regarding a simmering conflict, one party accommodates the other as a way to avoid pursuing direct negotiation. The avoidant person may use this strategy as a way to win favour with the person with whom they are in conflict.


The opposite of accommodation, stonewalling, occurs when a person deliberately avoids and refuses to interact with the person with whom they feel conflicted. By stonewalling the other person, individuals feel that they retain some power in the circumstance. By stonewalling, one person refuses to give the other person what the second person desires. The person doing the stonewalling makes the assumption that by withholding valuable input, he may gain the upperhand, which will eventually turn to his advantage.


Even competition can be an aggressive conflict avoidance posture. The aggressor, or the more competitive person in the conflict, takes a competitive posture to overcome the other party. The tactic is meant to solve the conflict to his advantage. Competitive tactics include lying, concealing one's true goals and interests or openly attacking the other person's position. By competing to win, the person intentionally positions himself to make the other person the loser in the argument. By doing so, the aggressor ignores the value of negotiating, working toward a compromise or a win-win solution.

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