Thomas Kilmann: Helping People Understand The Different Conflict Behaviors

Irrespective of the measures and training companies and organizations do, it is practically impossible to eliminate conflicts as even the top performing organizations experience conflicts although at a reduced rate. Another challenge that businesses must learn to deal with is that no two individuals deal with conflict in the same way. Therefore, managers and business owners have a responsibility to ensure that conflicts will not affect performance. There are several ways that can be used to deal with conflicts with different merits and shortcomings but the important aspect is to ensure that the conflict is resolved in a positive and productive manner. One of the best conflict management tools that help individuals to resolve matters positively is the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI).

Why Use the TKI Instrument?

The TKI instrument is not only important in conflict management but also in team building, performance improvement, leadership development, stress reduction, and retention. The tool is designed to help organizations identify different conflict handling styles and how to choose the ideal style for every situation. The tool also helps teams to function better by helping members to reconcile their differences and hence work more effectively. In leaders, the tool helps them to improve their conflict management skills and thus, become better. The tool also helps to eliminate barriers that can affect performance and thus, improve productivity. The tool also gives employees the capacity to identify and deal with stress in the workplace resulting in employees becoming successful.

The Thomas Kilmann instrument is popular among managers, trainers, and other professionals because it helps them to effectively manage conflict using five practical, situation-specific styles that include collaborating, competing, accommodating, avoiding and compromising. The instrument is short and easy to understand requiring no special skills or training to administer. Furthermore, the tool also considers the modern workplace diversity in terms of gender, age, ethnic and racial and thus, it can be applied in any company. The instrument is also backed by an excellent guidance and support through a well established global network.

The Thomas Kilmann tool assesses how an individual behaves in conflict situations and describe the behavior along two dimensions that include cooperativeness and assertiveness. In the competing mode, the tool helps to identify whether a person would stand up for what he or she believes is correct at the expense of others. In the accommodating style, the tool helps an individual to know whether he or she neglects own concerns to satisfy the concerns of others. In the avoiding style, the tool helps to find out whether an individual tries to avoid dealing with conflicts by postponing or sidestepping the issue. In the collaborating style, the person is both assertive and cooperative while in the compromising style, the person is moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness.


The TKI is popular because it has high reliability and validity with built-in control for desirability. Furthermore, the tool has demonstrated that different behaviors are neither bad nor good but simply different ways to deal with conflict.

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