Strategies in Diffusing and Resolving Conflict

This is from the “Accounting Makes Cents” podcast episode #32 released on Monday, 30 January 2023.

In this episode, we’re going to discuss the different strategies a company may employ to diffuse and resolve business conflict. All strategies are available for use and a company may choose any one to deal with a specific situation. However, it is important to ensure that the company chooses the right approach to ensure they do not inflict lasting damage on any business relationship.

Jump to show notes.

I think we should start off by looking at what conflict is. I’m sure this is a word understood by many to mean disagreement, or an argument, or a fight of some sort, it doesn’t have to be physical and it doesn’t have to be obvious as well. In the business world, conflict arises because of the different backgrounds, motivation, priorities of the various stakeholders. Some of the more common conflicts we encounter in business are task-related, personality clashes, unhealthy competition amongst stakeholders that should be working together to make the company better, and there are many others. 

For today’s episode, we’re going to try and cover the 5 different conflict management strategies discussed under the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model. That’s a mouthful and if you can’t remember the whole name of the theory, be assured you can think of this in the simple term of conflict management strategies. The way this model works is by measuring how assertive and cooperative a company is in resolving the conflict.


So the first strategy is avoiding. In the avoiding strategy, the company is not assertive at all and not cooperative as well. The typical reaction under this strategy is to either side-step a problem or postpone dealing with the problem, hoping that in time, the problem will go away. You can also withdraw yourself from the problem or the situation. Now you may think, okay, that doesn’t sound right. Because if you have a problem and you want it resolved by the company, you don’t want the company to just ignore your problem, which is basically what the avoid strategy is. I just wanna highlight that while this strategy sounds reckless and callous, like the company doesn’t even care, I want to put forth that there are some problems which can be dealt with by the avoid strategy. Most problems that you can use this strategy on are typically smaller issues, petty conflicts, and sometimes that feeling of not wanting to blow an issue up into something bigger.


The second strategy is accommodating. In this strategy, the company remains unassertive but there is the desire or willingness to give way to the other party. The good side in this strategy is of course that the conflict gets resolved, but the downside is that too much accommodation or just accommodating without really thinking it through could lead to the company satisfying demands at the expense of its own needs and wishes. This tactic is not always the right solution, but it can be good to use in situations where you are, perhaps, in the wrong and you need to fix the situation immediately.


The third strategy is competing. In competing, you have both sides not wanting to give an inch. In their minds, they are both right, they are both entitled, and they are both wanting to win. So as you will be able to tell, in this strategy, assertiveness is very high but cooperation is very low. This strategy works best when you are in conflict with another party but you’re not really trying to salvage the relationship. So in essence, you don’t really care if the relationship survives the conflict or not. One of the best examples here could be when business rivals try to win the same contracts or go for the same customers.


The fourth strategy is compromising. Now with compromising, the strategy is interesting. In the sphere of Thomas-Kilmann, this strategy sits in the middle, where assertiveness is sorta there, but not too much of it is there, and same goes for cooperation. The goal in compromising is that you want to find a solution as fast as possible, trying to cater for both sides, meaning that both sides will gain something but will likely lose something as well. The thinking here is that you are likely not going to get every single wish that you have out of the conflict, and so you will want to gain the most important wishes that you have, whilst you are going to be okay with letting go of the less important ones.


The last strategy is collaboration. And in this strategy, we have loads of assertiveness and loads of cooperation. This is the ultimate goal, with both sides working together trying to come up with a solution that satisfies everybody’s wants and needs. This is best used to keep the relationship intact, and making sure that there are no negative feelings being harbored by both parties (because they didn’t get what they want). The only issue with this strategy is while everybody wants to use this, sometimes the situation doesn’t make it easy. There is some sharing and trust involved and sometimes these may not be readily present for the parties.

Show notes simplified

In this episode, MJ the tutor discusses the different strategies a company may employ to diffuse and resolve business conflict. In particular, strategies discussed in today’s episode fall under the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model. All strategies are available for use but choosing the right one for specific situations is important to ensure the company does not inflict lasting damage on business relationships.

“Ding Ding Small Bell” ( by JohnsonBrandEditing ( licensed under CC0 Licence.

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