April 14th, 2009

Last week we visited the second of five styles of conflict management – Dominating.  This week, we move to a style that is practiced by many, and sadly, not usually very effectively: “Avoiding.”

The “don’t rock the boat” style of conflict management relies on others to handle the situation as the person (you) tend to just withdraw or disappear. Are you practicing a strategic style of conflict management, or are you avoiding conflict?  There is a distinct difference between the two styles of avoidance.

There are times when avoiding the issue is the correct choice.  Perhaps it is during board meeting where others are present.  Perhaps your anger has spilled over and you will not be able to be professional. However, you have only 24 hours to have a planned confrontation or discussion with this person.  You choose to avoid so that you can walk away to get prepared, calm down and to stay professional.  If you decide that it just isn’t worth having that follow up conversation, you’ve not dealt with the situation at all.  Actually, you’ve done the opposite and taught your difficult person that their behaviour was acceptable because you did nothing about it.  Behaviour unconfronted will not change.

If used strategically, the avoiding style of conflict management allows you to buy time for a cooling off period.  It allows us to plan our comments to a better place or a better time.

As stated above, very few people actually follow through within 24 hours and address the situation. If something has happened at work, chose to walk away (avoid) but don’t allow yourself to avoid the situation entirely by not having a follow up discussion about what happened.

This week we will go into further details of all five styles of conflict management as well as additional information as our next delivery of our teleseminar “Confrontation Skills” will be held.

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