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Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode (TKI): What's Wrong with Collaborating?


Once again, we'll look at one of the conflict handling styles and discuss some of the cons. This time, compromising will be our subject.

As a quick review, here are some of the positive aspects of collaborating: it strengthens relationships, can improve communication among the parties involved, can increase the quality of the decisions made, and can resolve long-standing conflicts that have been previously avoided.

Still, as with the other styles, there are disadvantages as well. First and foremost, it takes a great deal of time and effort to fully engage in the process. You'll have to concentrate and pay full attention to the other people you're working with. Creative problem solving is hard work. It might appear to be easy, yet truly meeting everyone's needs is a tall order.

Secondly, openness includes vulnerability. Others might take advantage of your frank and straightforward style. If you are flexible about reaching a solution, your counterpart could use this aspect of your style against you.

Of course, real collaboration requires dealing with the real issues, even those that are quite sensitive or rarely spoken about. In fact, it might be most important to deal with these issues rather than the surface issues. People will often argue about many topics, and never mention the subject that is causing the most distress. However, true resolution likely means addressing the hidden causes of conflict. Emotions could be very high and feelings can be hurt in discussing issues people have been avoiding, particularly if it's been going on for some time.

Openness requires flexibility and the willingness to see the other's point of view. This can be quite demanding and present a challenge to your previously held beliefs. Many people struggle with truly accepting far different viewpoints. Think about the death penalty, for example. Many people have firm beliefs, one way or the other on this topic. How many people are truly open to hearing and possibly accepting another viewpoint?

In summary, because collaboration is such a demanding way to negotiate, it can serve you best when the issues are most important. Less important issues might be ignored or settled with a quick compromise, but if the issue is vital, collaboration could be the way to go.

As always, it's not a matter of using one conflict management style in every situation. The skill is using the appropriate style when needed.


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