TKI test: Using Your Conflict Handling Modes More Effectively. When and How To Compete and Collaborate?

Jonathan Bollag, Owner and FounderAssessments, TKI

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To recap from a previous blog, the five TKI test conflict handling modes or styles are:

  • Competing
  • Collaborating
  • Compromising
  • Avoiding
  • Accommodating

Each mode is as important as the other; no one mode is “better” then another. People have preferable ways of how they handle conflict, and the conflict handling mode that is most used by an individual is usually the mode that is most preferred. With this said, there are particular times when one mode might be more effective then another. It is important that we are able to use different modes in different situations when confronted with conflict. The basis of this blog is when and how to use The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument’s five different conflict-handling modes, to what degree, and in what situations.

Competing Mode, when and how?

The first TKI test mode listed above is the Competing Mode, which is when one prefers to attend to his or her concerns over those of others. It is said that The TKI Competing Mode should be used sparingly and carefully as the end result of utilizing this mode can be detrimental to a relationship.

The text “Introduction to Conflict Management: Improving Performance Using The TKI” lists the following situations in which The TKI Test Competing Mode should be used:

  • When you know you’re right (when you have experience, information and/or proof)
  • When unpopular actions need to be taken
  • When quick, decisive action is required
  • When you’re under attack
  • When consensus fails
  • When people are too considerate

There are certain skills that are required to be successful at Competing behaviorally. One or more of these skills must be implemented in order for a Competing action to be successful. These are being persuasive, fighting a fair fight, using warnings and not threats, dictating a decision, and using tough love to enforce standards (Thomas,K. CPP, 2002).

Collaborating, when and how?

When collaborating it is usual to attempt to fulfill your own needs as well as those of the other parties’ involved. The focus of the Collaborating Mode is for the end result to satisfy both parties’ wants.

The TKI Collaborating Mode should be used:

  • When both concerns are vital to an organization
  • When you want to learn
  • To merge insights from diverse perspectives
  • When you need commitment to a decision
  • To work through problems in a relationship

(Thomas, K. CPP, 2002)

When you are dealing with a relationship or relationships that are important to you it is important to utilize The TKI Test Collaborating Mode and not The TKI Test Competing Mode. The TKI Collaborating Mode often results in a win-win scenario. The TKI Test Competing Mode can be compared to a zero sum game, whereas someone wins, and someone loses. It has its uses though when dealing with fragile relations it should be avoided.

In addition, the text “Introduction to Conflict Management: Improving Performance Using The TKI” states the important skills to be used when in The TKI Test Collaborating Mode. These include:

  • Setting the right tone when raising an issue
  • Identifying the underlying concerns of all parties involved
  • Stating the conflict as a mutual problem
  • Brainstorming solutions and picking the best and most suitable one
  • Being firm when necessary, using “firm flexibility”
  • Collaborating in groups

The TKI Test Collaborating Mode should be exhausted before the TKI Test Competing Mode is implemented as The Collaborating Mode can often result in win-win situations unlike The Competing Mode, which can end in great sacrifice to one side of the conflict, and in turn negatively affect both sides of the relationship.

Some other tips for Collaborating successfully are to use “we” language and avoid assigning blame.  Stay flexible and when speaking use “and” rather then “but” as much as possible. When Collaborating in groups create and stay on a course of common goals and use humor to lighten up the atmosphere.

Thank you for reading today, to learn more about The Thomas Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI test) or to complete and purchase this assessment, visit our  Career Assessments page or the TKI Assessment page directly.

Remember to acquire and achieve personal and professional success each and everyday!