Project Management

Relearning Conflict Resolution

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Your default conflict style isn't always appropriate. Here's how to tailor your response to the problem.

When embroiled in a disagreement, do you bend or bite back? Your conflict resolution style comes from the way you were raised, and to your detriment, you may rely on it too heavily, according to Steven Flannes, Ph.D., principal with Flannes Associates in  Oakland, Calif., and Jefferson Welch, an executive adviser at The Center for Executive Options in Pasadena, Calif. 


"We tend to arrive as adults incompetent in our attitudes about conflict and in our ability to deal with it," Welch says. But with effort, old approaches can be unlearned.


Flannes and Welch work with project managers to help them become aware of their preferred conflict resolution style and then show them other options. Effective project managers learn to use the right response at the right time, Welch says.


Here are five conflict resolution options, adopted from the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, with comments from Flannes:


1.   Compete.  aka: "My way or the highway."

This is the best response in an urgent situation, such as a crisis about a safety or quality issue. "You don't have time to beat around the bush. Pick your …

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