"Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

History of The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, or TKI  Test for short, was originally developed as a research tool by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann in the early 1970s.  Its development was based off of a model of managerial conflict styles proposed by Robert Blake and Jane Moulon in the 1960s.  Although originally intended as a research tool, it quickly became apparent that the TKI assessment was also a powerful training tool.  Today, the TKI test is a leading instrument used by individuals and businesses for improving their ability to handle conflict effectively.

What is The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

The TKI test is a self-report questionnaire designed to measure how one deals with interpersonal conflict. It includes five different conflict-handling modes and helps you identify which of these modes you use most often. One of the TKI assessment’s main goals is to help you become more aware of the choices you and others make in conflict situations. This knowledge, combined with tips included in your Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument report, provide tools for you to steer conflict situations in constructive directions.

The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument begins by identifying the two basic dimensions of Conflict Behavior:

  • Assertiveness: The degree to which you try to satisfy your own concerns during a conflict. This is related to how you might try to meet your needs or receive support for your ideas.
  • Cooperativeness: The degree to which you try to satisfy the other individuals’ concerns. It is related to how you might try to help the other individual meet his or her needs or how you can be receptive to the other individuals’ ideas.

The TKI assessment applies these to the five conflict-handling modes listed below. By applying the basic two dimensions of Assertiveness and Cooperativeness to the five conflict-handling modes, you create the five major combinations possible in a conflict situation.

  • Competing: Is assertive and uncooperative. In this mode, you try to satisfy your own concerns at the other person’s expense.
  • Collaborating: Is both assertive and cooperative. In this mode, you try to find a win-win solution that completely satisfies the concerns of both individuals involved.
  • CompromisingIs intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. In this mode, you try to find an acceptable solution that only partially satisfies both individual’s concerns.
  • Avoiding: Is both unassertive and uncooperative. In this mode, you work to sidestep the conflict without attempting to satisfy either individual’s concerns.
  • Accommodating: Is unassertive and cooperative. In this mode, you try to satisfy the other person’s concerns at the expense of your own concerns.

These conflict-handling modes illustrate general intentions and not necessarily specific behaviors that you may enact in a conflict situation. For example, using the Avoiding conflict-handling mode, you may avoid a situation by physically evading the individual in question. Another option might include having verbal contact with the individual and stating that the conversation should be postponed until a later date.

  • Sale!

    Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) Profile & Interpretive Report

    $44.95 $39.95 Add to cart

    Learn about your conflict-resolution style to help you resolve problems and issues as effectively as possible.

    Ever wondered how you could best solve problems with others who are so different than you? By learning about your conflict resolution styles as well as others’ preferred ways of solving conflict, you’ll discover how to settle your issues in a timely, effective manner. Use the TKI Profile & Interpretive Report in your business, classroom, or in your personal life to aid you in successful conflict resolution in a variety of situations.

    Download sample TKI Profile and Interpretive Report

There is no single best way to handle every conflict. Each of the five conflict-handling modes has its own sets of benefits and costs. Each can be highly effective if used properly in the right circumstance. The key to successfully utilizing each conflict is based on knowing when to use each mode, and then having the skills to perform each mode well. The skill of your performance in each conflict-handling mode relies on your ability to recognize the benefits of a mode while also being able to minimize its cost.

The list of benefits and costs of each conflict-handling mode are as follows:

Benefits of Competing: 

  • Asserting Your Position: Allows you to stand up for your ideas and interests while making sure that they are taken seriously.
  • Possibility of Quick Victory: Allows you to make a quick recommendation and possibly press for a quick decision if you have enough power to prevail.
  • Self-Defense: Allows you to protect your interests and viewpoints from attack.
  • Testing Assumptions: Allows you to debate to expose and test your own and others’ assumptions and views.

Costs of Competing: 

  • Strained Work Relationships: The loser of the conflict may feel resentful or exploited.
  • Suboptimal Decisions: Rapid resolution can lead to possible win-win solutions being overlooked. Also, information is not exchanged freely in the Competing mode.
  • Decreased Initiative and Motivation: When decisions are imposed, other individuals are less committed to them and show less initiative and motivation.
  • Possible Escalation and Deadlock: It is possible there might be a temptation to use more extreme and provocative tactics if initial tactics fail.  Can lead to negotiation deadlock.

Benefits of Collaborating: 

  • High-Quality Decisions: Leads to seeking innovative solutions that are better than each person’s initial recommendations.
  • Learning and Communication: Aids communication and discovery through open exchange of information.
  • Resolution and Commitment: Leads to both people working toward meeting all concerns, translating into both parties being committed to the decision.
  • Strengthening Relationships: Builds trust and respect by resolving problems in a relationship.

Costs of Collaborating:

  • Time and Energy Required: Requires full concentration and creativity. It also requires more time for digging through issues than the other modes.
  • Psychological Demands: Can be psychologically demanding as both parties have to be open to new viewpoints, ideas, and challenges.
  • Possibility of Offending: This mode may require working through some sensitive issues. You risk worsening the situation and potentially hurting another’s feelings if unsuccessful.
  • Vulnerability Risk: It is possible that others may try to exploit your flexibility and openness.

Benefits of Compromising: 

  •  Pragmatism: Often leads to a deal that is good enough without the necessary effort of trying to get both parties everything they wanted.
  • Speed and Expediency: Allows you to settle on a conclusion quickly.
  • Fairness: Provides equal gains and losses for both parties.
  • Maintaining Relationships: Allows both parties to meet halfway and reduces strain on the relationship.

Costs of Compromising:

  • Partially Sacrificed Concerns: Since both individuals’ concerns are compromised, it leaves some residual frustration.  The issue isn’t fully resolved and may flare up again.
  • Suboptimal Solutions: Settling for Compromising decisions is of lower quality than successful collaborative decisions.
  • Superficial Understanding: Agreements often paper over differences with vague statements that don’t accurately reflect the beliefs of the individuals who disagree.

Benefits of Avoiding:

  • Reducing Stress: This mode allows you to avoid demanding or unpleasant people and topics.
  • Saving Time: Allows you to not waste time and energy on low-priority items.
  • Steering Clear of Danger: Allows you to avoid provoking trouble.
  • Setting Up More Favorable Conditions: Provides you with time to be more prepared and less distracted so that you may deal with the matter at hand.

Costs Of Avoiding: 

  • Declining Working Relationships: Using this mode creates the possibility that work may not be accomplished as people avoid each other.  This mode allows for hostile stereotypes to develop and fester.
  • Resentment: Using this mode can lead to resentment from others whose concerns are being neglected, seeing your actions as evasive.
  • Delays:  Unaddressed issues cause delays and may keep recurring.  This takes up more time and causes more frustration than if these problems were faced earlier.
  • Degrading Communication and Decision Making: Using this mode may cause people to walk on eggshells rather than speak candidly and learn from one another.

Benefits of Accommodating: 

  • Helping Someone Out: Helping individuals meet their needs by supporting them.
  • Restoring Harmony: Can smooth feathers and calm troubled waters.
  • Building Relationships: Can be used to build social capital by doing favors.  Can also be used as a way of apologizing when necessary.
  • Choosing a Quick Ending: This mode can be used to cut your losses so that you can move on.

Costs of Accommodating: 

  • Sacrificed Concerns: This mode entails conceding something you care about. Your views or interests are sacrificed.
  • Loss Of Respect: This mode can build goodwill, but a perception of low assertiveness can lead to you losing respect. A pattern of accommodating can encourage exploitation.
  • Loss Of Motivation: Using the Accommodating mode leads to less satisfaction. It can lead to you agreeing to things for which you have little enthusiasm. 

Your TKI Profile & Interpretive report will provide you with information on how much you use each of the five conflict-handling modes. It will also give you signs to look for if you are overusing or under-using a specific mode. This information can help you navigate when to use each mode and to what extent.

You can get your TKI Profile & Interpretive Report by clicking HERE.

[Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument-based information was taken from the following publication: (Kenneth W. Thomas, 2002, CPP Inc.)]

The Validity Of Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

The TKI test is a leading measure of conflict-handling modes that has been optimized over its 40 plus years of existence.  This instrument has been trusted over four million times and has been featured in hundreds of research studies.  Continued support from CPP Inc has assured that the instrument is constantly reviewed and updated.

Why The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument?

Researchers have discovered a number of requirements for high-performing teams, with one requirement being their ability to resolve conflict openly and constructively. The TKI’s main focus is on effective conflict management.  Whether you are a team manager or member, the TKI test is the right assessment for improving communication and performance.

How Is The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument Used?

The TKI test is used by individuals and teams as a way to improve effectiveness in team settings.  The TKI assessment teaches the user the five distinct conflict modes and how they can each be effective in different situations.  Knowing your preferred method of dealing with conflicts, as well as the preferred methods of your teammates, can lead to handling conflict constructively.  This in turn is a key determinant of team effectiveness.

Free Versus Paid Assessments

There are many free personality and interest inventory tests and assessments located around The Internet, though one must know that though these tests attempt to mimic  CPP Instruments like The TKI test, at no or sometimes a low cost to you, they are neither valid nor proven to assess you or what you are searching for. The TKI Test has been written for validity and cross culturally tested and cannot be replaced by replicas that attempt to mimic its validity. Being that The TKI Assessment is quite affordable, there really is no reason to look elsewhere.

Why Choose Career Assessment Site For The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument? 

  • Receive immediate access to The TKI test at the lowest prices on the web with a fast turnaround with your TKI Report sent via PDF email to you. The TKI Assessment is a Non-Restricted Instrument and does NOT require an interpretation session.
  • Complementary email support for any assessment based questions.
  • At Career Assessment Site we provide a free interpretation session with a licensed professional by telephone with every purchase.   Careerassessmentsite.com provides psychological restricted assessments which require an interpretive session with each purchase as it is a very important part of your experience. The TKI Assessment is a Non-Restricted Assessment and does NOT require an interpretation session. For details please check our FAQ page.  Additional counseling sessions are available at a fee of $40.00 per 1/2 hour and $75.00 per hour.


Introduction to Conflict Management  (Kenneth W. Thomas, 2002, CPP Inc.)