Five styles or types or modes of conflict management are described in the literature, with different shades of the two strategies described above: avoidance, competition, compromise, accommodation and collaboration.
- Avoidance is, as we have established, a way of preventing or ending conflict through strategies that circumvent the problem, such as: withdrawal, remaining silent, engaging in other behaviors that are either energy-consuming, or are meant to provide support from others or temporary oblivion. Other authors have also identified another form of avoidance that involves using alternatives, such as targeting another buyer.
- Competition or confrontation or fighting is the way in which we want to impose ourselves on others and pursue our own interests rather than those of our partner. It can be an indirect competition, where everyone manipulates the rules and hides information, a direct fight, characterised by the use of verbal and physical aggression, or a fair-play one, based on trust, where the rules are respected and the partners are focused on improving the relationship and finding a solution that offers equal gains to both parties.
- Compromise is when both sides accept certain concessions and the possibility of giving up something they want, usually something less important, to get something else that matters more in return. It involves a negotiation between the parties to achieve an exchange of benefits.
- Accommodation or abandonment is the giving up of one participant in favor of the other. It is often used in situations where the relationship is more important than the object of the conflict and we are more interested in maintaining the illusion of a good relationship or harmony with the other person. In fact, it only postpones the conflict or sets the stage for a new conflict and unbalances the relationship.
- Collaboration is a process aimed at solving the problem through negotiation and reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. The authors describe it as a win-win strategy and it is differentiated from compromise by creative negotiation aimed at optimizing the situation and not just satisfying the parties. First, common and individual objectives are identified, and then the possibilities by which they can be achieved without the other party suffering are openly discussed.
The conclusion of the authors who have dealt with this topic is that the most effective and least damaging style of conflict management is collaboration, which, unlike the others, involves changing the attitude towards conflict and focusing both on the object of the conflict and on the relationship with the other, who goes from opponent to partner.