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Collaborating Conflict Style Explained In 4 Minutes

Collaborating Conflict Style Explained In 4 Minutes

Almost everyone has dealt with conflict at work at some point in their career. The report Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It To Thrive uncovered that 85% of employees across all levels experienced conflict at work at least one time.

The word conflict has many negative connotations; however, conflict, especially at work, can be productive, create positive change, and lead to better results.

Liane Davey points out why companies need conflict to thrive in her article for Fast Company. She says, “Conflict isn’t bad for organizations: it’s fundamental to them. After all, you need to be able to work through opposing sides of an issue and come to a resolution in the best interest of customers, shareholders, and customers–whether you’re on the shop floor or the boardroom.”

Turning conflict from a negative to a positive all comes down to how it is handled. In most situations, collaborating to come to a resolution is possibly one of the most productive conflict styles to use. Try our quiz at the bottom of this article if you want to see which conflict style you are likely to deploy during a dispute.

The collaborating conflict style is ideal for situations where the conflict is about something significant, commitment is needed, or a relationship needs to be preserved. Of all the conflict styles, this is the most likely to identify the root cause of a conflict, pinpoint the underlying needs of the parties involved, and come to a win-win resolution for everyone.

Through collaboration, everyone comes together to openly discuss the issue causing tension, actively listen to each other, and negotiate a solution until everyone is delighted.

As you can imagine, the collaborating conflict style requires a great deal of time and energy to succeed. It also requires a willingness from all parties to discuss their perspective, listen to others with an open mind, genuinely consider alternative solutions, and maintain an inclusive environment. While not all conflicts require so much time and effort, when used in situations that do, this conflict style can benefit all parties long-term.


What's your conflict management style? Take this quiz to find out!


Advantages of the Collaborating Conflict Style

  • Makes everyone feel heard and understood
  • Fosters mutual respect, trust, and empathy
  • Encourages out-of-the-box, creative problem-solving
  • Strengthens working relationships

Disadvantages of the Collaborating Conflict Style

  • Requires a significant amount of time, energy, and effort
  • Delays decision-making and impedes productivity
  • Overcomplicates or drags out trivial conflicts
  • Adds stress as negotiating can be mentally and emotionally demanding

3 Lessons Everyone Can Learn from the Collaborating Conflict Style

First and Foremost, Assess the Significance of a Conflict
While the collaborating conflict style may be touted as the “ideal” way to handle conflict at work, in reality, this conflict style is not ideal for all situations. Remember, there is an extensive time and resource commitment associated with collaborative conflict resolution, and you can likely not afford to invest the same amount of time and energy into every conflict you encounter.


Collaborative Conflict Resolution Requires Inclusion
For someone who uses the collaborating conflict style to find a win-win solution, everyone involved in the conflict needs to be willing to talk openly, listen, learn from one another, and collaborate with each other. If you want those you are in conflict with to behave in such a way, you must first gain their trust by creating a non-threatening environment where all feel valued and heard. Some ways to do this include leading by example, laying down ground rules before any discussion begins, and immediately shutting down personal attacks.


Listening is as Important as Talking in a Conflict
All too often when we’re engaged in conflicts at work, we are focused on what we’re going to say next, making our case, or figuring out how to bring the conflict to an end. While this is natural, it’s essential to take a page from the collaborating conflict styles book, and be intentional about listening to what is (and isn’t) being said. As the author of The Five Love Languages series regarding human relationships once said, “When people respond too quickly, they often respond to the wrong issue. Listening helps us focus on the heart of the conflict. When we listen, understand, and respect each other’s ideas, we can then find a solution in which both of us are winners.”

What Is Your Conflict Management Style? Take the Quiz to Find Out

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