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Strategies for dealing with conflict February 11, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People.
Tags: , , , ,


War! Fight! Battle! Yuck!  We often associate these words with conflict. It is not surprising that the number one response to conflict is to avoid it. However, there are actually five different strategies for dealing with conflict.


  1. Avoid — run away, forget about it, hope it will go away
  2. Attack — lash out at the conflict, counter with aggressive behavior, try to destroy it
  3. Resolve — investigate the source, invoke problem solving skills, try to find a solution that works
  4. Prevent — anticipate potential conflict and take action to prevent it. This strategy is different than avoid since we are being proactive. It is preemptive resolution!
  5. Walk away — this conflict does not involve me or my goals, it is not important to me, I will not engage and will let it go


What are some of the implications of each of the conflict handling strategies?



Lost productivity — both yours and others

Lost time spent talking about the conflict

Loss of respect by complaining about the conflict

Inappropriate action because you believe you were “hurt”

Trying to get even

Building up your emotions until some small event sets you off



Strained relationships

Win-lose mentality

Less than optimum solutions

High stress

Less professional




Higher quality solutions

Faster time to market

Less cost

Better relationships

Less stress

Higher energy



High quality solutions




Personal power



Walk away

Stay focused on what is important to me

Effective use of my time

Less involvement in arguments

Positive reputation



Which strategy is best for you? Well, that depends upon the conflict. The first step is to recognize there is actually a conflict! Conflict is easy to spot. We can sometimes see it, hear it or just plain sense it. The Big Dogz do not involve themselves unnecessarily in conflict. The question they ask when they encounter conflict is this one:


Do I have a dog in this fight?


Is this issue important to me? Do I want to spend the time and energy required to resolve this conflict?


If the answer is “no”, they use the walk away strategy. Walk away is different than avoid because in addition to putting it behind them, they also forget about it.


If the answer is “yes”, then the Big Dogz determine what the best strategy to use is. Here are some guidelines for selecting a strategy:


If you do not have a long-term relationship with this person, use the avoid strategy. Try to convince yourself that using walk away would be better for you. Continued use of the avoid strategy can result in damage to you.


If you have a long-term relationship with this person, then the resolve strategy is optimum.


If the resolve strategy does not work and the issue is very important to you, then go ahead and use the attack strategy.


If you anticipate possible conflict with a person, use the prevent strategy.


One of the characteristics that separate the Big Dogz from others in dealing with conflict is that they make a conscious decision on what strategy they will use to handle the conflict.


What strategies are you using to deal with conflict?



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