Top 5 conflict styles and resolution strategies

If you want to approach someone about a conflict, you need to think about how the other person will respond to the initial contact. We all have different reactions to tense conversations: some people shut down, some go into attack mode. Here are the 5 most common conflict styles, with tips on how best to manage them. 


COMPETITORS: goals and outcomes matter more than relationships. If necessary, they will attack, overpower, overwhelm, and intimidate.

How to approach: tell them directly what your concerns or issues are and ask to have a meeting to resolve them. They will value a direct and task-oriented approach, with a view to resolution. 


RESOLVERS: Conflict resolvers value relationships and goals equally so will view problems or conflict as an opportunity. They are looking for solutions which will lead to a win-win outcome where both people achieve their goals. This will be achieved through discussion to reveal the problems in the way, and work towards finding solutions to these in order to achieve the outcome both people want. Resolvers act as problem solvers seeking wise and agreed outcomes.

How to approach: they will value a direct approach about the problem and will like to know that you want a structured meeting to hear each person’s point of view respectfully. Affirm that you value the relationship and that you want to spend time talking it through. 


AVOIDERS: prepared to relinquish both goals and relationships so withdraw and abdicate all responsibility. They may even walk out if they feel overwhelmed. Often feel utterly helpless. The problem or conflict can never lead them on to better things.

How to approach: use a 2-step approach, stay low-key and give them the information in a calm and methodical way so they can go away and think about it. Then, when they have had time, set up a meeting to discuss the issue.


COMPROMISERS: scheme to win a little, lose a little. They can become self-assertive and manipulative or on the other hand can be persuasive, affable, and flexible.

How to approach:  it is best to say honestly your preference, then offer to discuss their first choice with a view to finding a solution that meets you both halfway. 


YIELDERS: preserve relationships at all costs. The overwhelming desire to be liked and accepted motivates them to give in. They smooth over issues and aim to please at the cost of letting go of their own ideas or goals.

How to approach: they will be concerned about telling you their views and preferences in case it spoils the relationship. Take a 2-step approach: firstly, chat about everyday things, then bring up the issue in a light and relaxed way, telling them you really want to hear their views. Be reassuring and positive. Any sense of heaviness or seriousness - they will become anxious and shut down.


This #ASBAwarenessWeek, WMS has partnered with Wandsworth Council to help tackle anti-social behaviour in the community. Each day we'll be posting conflict resolution techniques to help nip ASB-related conflicts in the bud:
Monday, July 19 – Navigating tough conversations
Tuesday, July 20 – Top 5 conflict styles and resolution strategies
Wednesday, July 21 – Using I-statements to transform conflict situations
Thursday, July 21 – How to become an Active Listener
Friday, July 22 – Default responses to conflict and how to overcome them

If you are entrenched in a conflict with your neighbour, you can get free help. At Wandsworth Mediation Service (WMS), we offer free community mediation to all Wandsworth residents. Two trained mediators will facilitate the conversation, help you listen to each other’s point of view and assist you in developing mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation is free, completely confidential and highly effective - most cases settle after the first meeting. Contact us for more information.

Grateful thanks to Sharon Crooks, Nick Adlington and Lizzie Haynes.