A benefit of my consulting work is that it requires me to learn on a regular basis. As I prepared for an upcoming workshop about organizational conflict I was revisiting some books to refresh my memory. While doing this, I re-encountered a wonderful model about the different ways we respond to interpersonal conflict (Rahim). Five different approaches to conflict are illustrated in this Johari window.
Response 1 – Avoid [low concern for self and low concern for others]
Response 2 – Oblige [low concern for self and high concern for others]
Response 3 – Compromise [moderate concern for self and moderate concern for others]
Response 4 – Dominate [high concern for self and low concern for others]
Response 5 – Integrate [high concern for self and high concern for others]
This research also has significant cultural nuances to it. For example, cultures that highly value ‘saving face tend to use obliging or even avoidance styles as a means to accomplish this. Rahim’s model is a useful way to identify responses to conflict because it is so easy to remember. Specifically, I appreciate how it reminds us that conflict avoidance is usually a lose/lose situation. So how about you – what’s your go-to style?
Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: A. Rahim (1983). A measure of styles of handling interpersonal conflict. Academy of Management Journal.
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