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Understanding Team Conflict | The TKI Conflict Modes

Updated: Jan 15

As we all know, Student Unions are made up of staff and members who differ in personal characteristics and experience.

To be effective as a union, those members must reach agreements on goals and help each other achieve their endeavors – despite their differences. Easier said than done? Yes, we hope this will help.


Because no two individuals have exactly the same expectations and desires, conflict may arise in the workplace. It’s a natural part of our interactions with others. Usually, the outcomes are unsatisfactory and lead to fall-outs, disharmony, and distractions from the real purpose of our work.


There are different ways to define conflict. When speaking of conflict, what would immediately come into your mind? - Yes that’s most likely how differences and disagreements spring up.


There’s 5 modes in the TKI (Thomas-Kilmann Instrument) Conflict model.


1. Competing - Assertive and Uncooperative

The person who pursues their own concerns at the other person’s expense. Competing means “standing up for your rights,” defending a position which you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.


2. Accommodating - Unassertive and Cooperative

The complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the person neglects their own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person. This might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, giving in to another person's order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another's point of view.


3. Avoiding - Unassertive and Uncooperative

The person neither pursues their own concerns nor those of the other individual. Thus he does not deal with the conflict. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.


4. Compromising - Moderate in both Assertiveness and Cooperativeness

Both sides get something but not everything. It might mean splitting the difference between the two positions, some give and take, or seeking a quick solution in the middle ground. The objective is to find some mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties.


5. Collaborating - Assertive and Cooperative

The complete opposite of avoiding. Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns. Collaborating requires developed conflict resolution skills based on mutual respect, willingness to listen to others, and creativity in finding solutions.


Your conflict behavior in the workplace is therefore a result of both your personal tendencies and the requirements of the situation in which you find yourself. The TKI is designed to measure this mix of conflict-handling modes.


Conflict may seem negative for some, or necessary for others; either way they should be understood to be productive. All conflicts cannot necessarily be resolved, but learning how to manage conflicts can decrease the odds of nonproductive escalation. Learning how to react to conflict starts with understanding the other person's mode of conflict.


Solve your conflict through this worksheet:

TKI-Conflict-Modes-Cheat-Sheet



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