Let’s Get Ready to Properly Manage Conflict!

Conflict, properly managed, can yield many benefits – but it’s something people generally don’t like.  Conflict doesn’t always feel good; it can bring guilt, shame, anger, and hurt feelings to those involved.  But it’s like at the doctor’s office – how they get you to be less wary of something by breaking it down and explaining how it works before applying it to you.


Conflict is more approachable when you understand exactly what it is and how it relates to you.  You don’t need to avoid it if you can make informed choices about it.  Very basically, conflict is when two or more people with contrasting goals, values, or attitudes come together.

When people are in difficult situations that involve emotions and power relationships, it can help to categorize things in order to gain perspective on them.  We can say that there are three types of conflict:

  • Relationship Conflicts – involve differing personal beliefs, worldviews, communication styles, etc.
  • Task Conflicts – involve differing opinions about what should be done, when, and by whom.
  • Process Conflicts – involve differing opinions about how things should be done, qualitatively.

This is not to say that more than one type of conflict can’t be at play simultaneously.  But, this categorization does unpack the issues present in a complicated situation so they don’t go unaddressed.

After learning to recognize the different types of conflict – including who is involved and why it’s happening – you can begin exploring your options for action.  The key to constructive conflict management is to understand that these options exist, and then to choose the most effective behavior, considering all possible outcomes.

Conflict Strategies InventoryThe Conflict Strategies Inventory, now in its third edition, is a self-assessment and soft-skills training workshop that will give participants the skills they need to arrive at the best possible outcome in any situation.  Based on 5 conflict management strategies, the Conflict Strategies Inventory begins by revealing individuals’ natural tendencies in conflict situation and showing them that their preferred actions are not the only possibilities.  It then examines the outcomes of different courses of action to show that certain behaviors (referred to as the Integrating strategy) are more effective than others.

Integrating means meeting the needs of both, or all, parties involved in conflict through creative problem solving and collaborative decision making.  The Conflict Strategies Inventory provides detailed examples and experiential learning activities that show participants how and when Integrating is appropriate, and guides them as they plan to incorporate effective conflict management into their daily work life.

Effective conflict management will foster innovation and positive change; it will improve interpersonal relationships, increase efficiency, and tear down barriers to a better future for your organization. Empower your team to manage conflict effectively with the Conflict Strategies Inventory.

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