Competing Conflict Style

In this article, you will learn about the competing conflict style: its advantages, disadvantages, and best practices.

In any organization or personal relationship, conflict can and will arise. Understanding how to handle these conflicts is key to successful conflict resolution.

If you want to improve your conflict management skills, it is imperative to understand the different conflict styles of negotiation.

One of the most common conflict management styles is the competing style, which involves a person prioritizing their own goals and objectives over the goals of others.

In this blog post, we will explore the competing conflict management style, understand how to use them in proper situations, and the drawbacks of using them too often.

Understanding Competing Conflict Management Style

People who prefer the competing conflict style prioritize their own goals above those of other parties. This style is often referred to as the “win-lose” approach because the person focuses on victory rather than reaching a mutual understanding.

People who use the competitive style may be assertive, and confident, and have the desire to maintain control over a situation despite the potential negative consequences.

They may approach conflict as an opportunity to exert their power or show dominance over others.

A competing style of conflict management is suitable in some situations where it is important to assert your needs, goals, and interests.

For example, when there is a clear right or wrong, or when a quick decision needs to be made, the competing style can be an effective approach.

However, using the competing style too often can lead to negative outcomes. If people are frequently using the competing style, it can contribute to an overall toxic working or living environment.

This style focuses on achieving one’s goals at the expense of others and, as a result, can create a winner and a loser.

The competitive style is just one of five conflict management styles. The other four traditional conflict management styles are:

  1. Collaborating Style: The collaborating style emphasizes teamwork and joint problem-solving to find mutually beneficial solutions that satisfy everyone’s interests.
  2. Accommodating Style: In accommodating style, one party seeks to accommodate the other’s interests, usually because the issue at hand is of low importance. Accommodating conflict management style presents a resolution that is allowable to the other party.
  3. Compromising Style: Compromising style involves finding a middle ground on which both parties can agree with some concessions made by both sides. Compromising conflict management style can become a lose-lose resolution to workplace matters.
  4. Avoiding Style: Avoiding conflict management style involves avoiding the issue at hand altogether, usually when the conflict is trivial or when the parties involved need time to reflect and cool down.

Different conflict management styles have its strengths and weaknesses, and one must choose the appropriate style based on the conflict style, the parties involved, and their goals. A skilled conflict manager knows how to mix and match these styles to achieve the best outcomes for everyone involved.

Advantages of Using the Competing Style

  1. Directness and Clarity: Competing style is a direct approach, and individuals must state their views and stand firmly on those views. By being direct and clear, the opposing individual or group can better hear and understand your perspective.
  2. Resolution time: Using this style can lead to the faster and more efficient resolution of conflicts. Sometimes a quick resolution is necessary, for example, in cases where a company is facing a time-sensitive decision
  3. Strengthens the individual: The competing style requires individuals to be assertive, confident, and stand up for what they believe in. This can lead to stronger self-esteem and a more competitive attitude.

Disadvantages of Using the Competing Style

  1. Destroys relationships: Competing style can damage relationships because it focuses on winning over collaborating. Using this approach too often could result in negative or strained relationships, which could affect the overall productivity of the individual or the organization.
  2. May lead to resentment and anger: When someone uses the competing style during a conflict, the other party can feel disregarded or disrespected. This can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment.
  3. May be less effective in certain situations: Using the competing style can be less effective in situations where relationships matter or when a win-win decision benefits everyone. As a result, this style might not be the best for resolving a workplace conflict.

Best Practices for Competing Conflict Management Style

  1. Be selective when using the competing style: The competing style of conflict management might be effective in certain situations but might not always be the best way in other situations. A leader needs to evaluate the situation and the parties involved before embracing the competing style.
  2. Be collaborative: Even when using the competing style, it’s important to be transparent and direct in working with others. This means being open to feedback, taking time to hear the other party’s arguments and ideas, and finding common ground wherever possible
  3. Avoid escalating conflicts: It’s essential not to escalate a conflict. Just because an individual who is using a competing style takes a firm stand on his or her position does not mean that they should escalate the conflict or make it personal.
  4. Know when to move on: The competing style should only be used when necessary and only when there is a clear advantage for the individual or organization. If it doesn’t work, quickly shift to other styles of conflict management towards something that will maintain the relationship and reach a more valuable result.

Final Thoughts

Using the competing style of conflict management can be an effective way to resolve disputes, but only in certain circumstances. When used sparingly, this conflict management style can save time and help individuals assert themselves in critical situations.

However, using the competing style too often can damage relationships and lead to negative outcomes. By understanding when and how to use this style effectively, individuals and organizations can more effectively manage conflicts and achieve positive outcomes.

Applying best practices such as being selective when using the style, staying collaborative, avoiding escalating conflicts, and knowing when to move on will ensure that conflict resolution is done effectively and efficiently.

If you are interested in learning more about competing conflict style, other conflict management styles, or dispute resolution services, reach out to ADR Times to learn about the available courses and educational materials.


ADR Times
error: ADR Times content is protected.