Understanding the Avoiding Conflict Style

Avoiding Conflict Style

We deal with conflict daily and we encounter the avoiding conflict style daily. From workplace conflicts to family issues, conflicts, and conflict resolution are a large part of our daily life. When in the middle of conflict, the parties involved will often be working toward a mutually beneficial outcome and attempt to build mutual respect, yet that can be difficult with dealing with a different conflict management style, especially if they are seeking to avoid conflict.

Regardless of the conflict situation, an avoiding conflict style can throw a wrench in anyone’s conflict management skills. However, learning more about conflict management styles and how they interact in conflict situations can help you understand how to approach and deal with the other parties to find the middle ground. This article will look at the avoiding conflict style and how it can impact dispute resolution.

Defining Conflict Management Styles

Before diving into the specific avoiding conflict style, it can be helpful to understand what a conflict management style is and the various styles that one can adopt. A conflict management style is the roles that you play when you approach a conflict. It can match or clash with the style of the other party, and it can shift depending on the situation at hand.

A fallback style is often developed throughout childhood and adolescence; however, it can be shifted and developed intentionally in adulthood and professionally. It is the way that you approach conflict, and it can shift in various settings and with different people involved. There are five styles of conflict management, which we will discuss in turn. Each has positive and negative aspects that can be used and abused in conflict.

Accommodating Style

The accommodating style focuses on setting aside their own needs and letting the other side get what they want to keep the peace. The relationship between the parties is the most important thing for the accommodating style. This will often result in a win-lose situation and often does not fully resolve the situation, resulting in a temporary solution.

Avoiding Style

The avoiding style, which is the focus of this article, focuses on how to avoid confrontation rather than how to resolve the conflict. The most important thing for the avoidant person is to protect their inner peace rather than fighting with others to get what they would like. It can often result in a win-lose solution and does not fully resolve the issue or can prolong it if the other party is unable to encourage them to participate in the solution. It can make the process time-consuming and may result in a quick or unpopular decision to avoid further discussion.

Collaborating Style

The collaborative style is often the preferred style for those looking to find a win-win situation and find creative solutions to a problem. Those who use the collaborative style will often focus on finding common interests between the parties and use creative problem-solving to determine the best course for moving forward. They dive into conflict resolution and consider each perspective. Finding a win-win solution is the main goal of this style.

Competing Style

The competing style focuses on getting the best outcome for yourself without taking into account what the other person needs. This is most common when the negotiation or conflict situation resolves around limited resources with little room to create additional interests to work with. This conflict style will often cause more harm to the relationship between the parties than they recognize in the moment and it results in a win-lose or lose-lose situation.

Compromising Style

The compromising style focuses on dealing with the conflict in a just and equitable way rather than in a mutually agreeable solution. It focuses on getting both parties to give up things in tandem to create a deal that is fair for everyone. A savvy negotiator may be able to skew the results in favor of one party, but in most cases, it ends up creating a lose-lose situation that feels fair, if not great, to both.

Each conflict style has its pros and cons, as discussed above, and it can be used strategically. The rest of this article will examine the pros and cons of avoiding conflict management style and how to handle dealing with an avoidant person or how to use the style to your advantage.

An Example of Avoiding Conflict Style

To better understand how avoiding style works, let’s consider an example of how it can play out in real time. Imagine that you are on a team with other employees and you are dealing with a difficult project. One aspect of the project is to interview and hire a graphic design firm for some marketing images you will need. You spend two weeks researching, interviewing, and hiring a firm you think is the best for the job.

However, when they send in their projects, they do not fit the design brief you sent. Your boss is angry that the work does not match the vision, but you tell him that you sent the correct brief and it was the firm that messed up the execution. This is an example of avoiding style by shifting the blame instead of owning your part and working toward a solution to resolve the disconnect.

Pros and Cons of the Avoiding Conflict Management Style

While the avoiding conflict style can often get a bad reputation, some advantages can make it a worthwhile consideration for managing a conflict. However, some disadvantages make it a risky option in many cases, so it needs to be used wisely, which will be discussed in the next section. This section will examine the advantages and disadvantages of avoiding conflict style and outline how it can impact conflict situations.


The advantages of avoiding style are most common when the other person in the conflict understands and acknowledges that the style is being used. When someone understands the way that this conflict style is used, they can help encourage the advantages and avoid the disadvantages.

More Time

When one person is focusing on avoiding conflict, it can force everyone involved to take a moment to consider all the interests and each perspective at play to find the best course of action moving forward. It gives everyone time to formulate a response without making a quick decision.

Maintain a Solid Working Relationship

When dealing with conflict, a person who tends to avoid conflict will often end up allowing other people to cool down and approach the situation from a place of peace rather than dealing with all the extra emotions that may be there in the moment. This allows everyone to focus on the relationship and reexamine the situation with everyone’s interests in mind.


As we’ve said several times, the disadvantages to the avoiding style can make it a dangerous option to choose to use. Consider the following risks when choosing to avoid conflict.

Damage the Relationship

In some instances, avoiding the conflict rather than dealing with it will harm the relationship between those involved. It can spur tension or resentment and cause everyone to avoid each other in the future.

Stops Creativity

When a person is practicing avoiding conflict style, they may end up causing other people to miss creative problem-solving ideas by not talking about the conflict. This can further frustrate the issue.

Portrays Disinterest

If you are avoiding the conflict, you may signal that you do not have an interest in the outcome and it could cause your point of view to be ignored. This may end up causing you to be excluded from the solution and could harm your chances of helping with other conflicts.

Tips for Handling Conflicts with an Avoidant Personality

Avoiding conflict style can be a useful but difficult tool to harness. It can also be a difficult conflict style to encounter when attempting to deal with a conflict. However, understanding the goals and reasons that someone may use the style can help you realize when it may be the better option.

Tips for Using Avoiding Conflict Style

When considering when to use the avoiding style, you should take into account the relationship you have with the other side and the amount of time you have to resolve the conflict.

For example, if you have a good relationship with the other person, you can probably avoid dealing with the conflict for a little time to gather your thoughts and present a solution; however, you do not want to do this if you know that the other person would find this rude or disrespectful. Gauging how the choice could hurt or harm your relationship can help you decide if it is the right option.

Similarly, if you have to make a quick decision on a conflict, avoiding conflict style may not be a good idea because it will often require more time. You do not want to harm the overall project to protect yourself.

Tips for Handling Avoiding Conflict Style

If you are dealing with someone employing the avoiding conflict management style, using these tips may make the dispute resolution process more manageable and help you resolve the issue effectively.

First, you should consider whether the conflict needs to be resolved within the same conversation. Many disputes could benefit from taking a second to gather your thoughts and consider the interests of everyone involved.

Second, you should consider the benefit of silence and how it can help you address things that you could not see immediately amid the conflict. Learning to use silence effectively can help you have more patience for the other side.

Finally, you should assess whether a response is needed. Some disputes pop up in the middle of an emotional issue and once everyone can cool off, the dispute no longer exists. If you can resolve the dispute by not saying something, it may be the best course of action. Learning to avoid the right conflict can help you live more of your life without disputes, which is helpful for everyone.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t a productive approach to avoid conflict or to avoid discussions that could lead to avoding a conflict. Developing communication skills and learning how to manage our emotions as well as understanding others can help bridge the gap between the conflict avoiders and those seeking to resolve conflicts. To learn more about avoiding conflict style, conflict resolution, and more, contact ADR Times!

Emily Holland
Latest posts by Emily Holland (see all)
error: ADR Times content is protected.