Conflict management styles and strategies

What's the best way to deal with conflict?

How to manage conflict between individuals and between groups: Styles, approaches, and specific action steps.

Jesus' model for maintaining relationships:

  1. Don't ignore conflict. Address it.
  2. Don't abandon conflict. Pursue it to resolution.
  3. Don't exaggerate conflict. Solve it with as little publicity and public scrutiny as possible.
  4. Don't fence yourself in when conflict occurs. Stay open to correction and reproof.
  5. Don't recycle conflict. Once it's resolved, let it go.
— based on material by Bruce Barton in the "Matthew" section of Life Application Bible Commentary

Improving group dynamics when conflict occurs

"I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord." — Philippians 4:2

Peacemaking: Tips for recognizing and managing conflicts

Team unity: Five conflict-management approaches or techniques

Missionaries get into conflict with each other. Pastors and lay people get into conflict. Volunteers in ministry organizations find themselves in conflict. Human relations managers in businesses often find themselves managing situations of interpersonal conflict.

How can you manage disagreements in ways that build personal and collegial relationships rather than harming them? Such disagreements or conflicts can occur between individuals or between groups of people. Here are five strategies from conflict management theory for managing stressful situations. No one of them is a "one-size-fits-all" solution. Which one is the best in a given situation will depend on a variety of factors, including an appraisal of the level of conflict.

drawing of an owl Collaborating
I win, you win
Symbol: Owl
Fundamental premise: Teamwork and cooperation help everyone achieve their goals while also maintaining relationships.
Strategic philosophy: The process of working through differences will lead to creative solutions that will satisfy both parties' concerns.
When to use:
drawing of a fox Compromising
You bend, I bend
Symbol: Fox
Fundamental premise: Winning something while losing a little is OK.
Strategic philosophy: Both ends are placed against the middle in an attempt to serve the "common good" while ensuring each person can maintain something of their original position.
When to use:
drawing of a teddy
I lose, you win
Symbol: Teddy Bear
Fundamental premise: Working toward a common purpose is more important than any of the peripheral concerns; the trauma of confronting differences may damage fragile relationships
Strategic philosophy: Appease others by downplaying conflict, thus protecting the relationship
When to use:
drawing of a
I win, you lose
Symbol: Shark
Fundamental premise: Associates "winning" a conflict with competition.
Strategic philosophy: When goals are extremely important, one must sometimes use power to win.
When to use:
drawing of a
No winners, no losers
Symbol: Turtle
Fundamental premise: This isn't the right time or place to address this issue
Strategic philosophy: Avoids conflict by withdrawing, sidestepping, or postponing
When to use:

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" -- James 4:1

Note: This is a do-as-I-say,-not-as-I-do page. Even on my good days, I can explain how to mediate and resolve conflict better than I can actually do it. 🙂

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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