Conflict Approach Tendencies

(25 minutes)

  • Have your students take this Modified Thomas Killmann questionnaire to find out how they tend to approach a conflict.
  • When they are finished, let participants know that the Thomas Killmann informs them of their general tendencies for resolving conflict. Go over the tendencies. A high score in a column would be an 8 or 9, a medium score a 5, 6, or 7, and a low score 3 or 4:
  • Column I “No Way” Those with the highest number in column I have a tendency to Avoid when in a conflict: These types prefer not to deal with the problem at hand, and/or they don’t feel the issues in dispute or the relationships involved are important.
  • Column II “Your Way” Those with the highest number in II have a tendency to Accommodate, and/or give in (it can be perceived as losing): These types prefer to “give in” rather than to get confrontational about anything. This approach can also be used by people who care about the relationships with the persons involved in the situation, but don’t really care about the issue.
  • Column III “My Way” Those with the highest number in III have a tendency to Control/Compete/ Persist (it can be perceived as winning): These types see everything as a challenge that they want to dominate. In some situations, it may be a good idea to use this approach (i.e., when your basic rights are being violated) but, in some instances, it may be damaging.
  • Column IV “Half Way” Those with the highest number in IV have a tendency to Compromise: If the issue and relationship are important and you have limited time or resources, this may be the best approach (your friend really wants to hang out all day, but you have to study, so you stop by for only a short time after you study).
  • Column V “Our Way” Those with the highest number in V have a tendency to Collaborate: These types prefer to derive creative strategies to resolve conflicts because they would like to preserve the relationships and achieve their goals as well. This approach usually leads to win-win solutions. 
  • Have students discuss or write about their reaction to their results.
  • Show your students this video and ask them which approach each of the characters uses.

Choosing Your Approach

(25 minutes)

  • Have your students learn about the different approaches to conflict.
  • Present each student with these conflict scenarios. Ask students to discuss or write out how they would approach each situations and why. If they answer with their tendency or an incorrect approach, discuss why it is not ideal until they choose the correct approach.


  • Talk with your students about how it is often necessary to use more than one approach in a single conflict. For instance, if either you or the person you are in conflict with are too angry to productively talk with one another, you may need to avoid the conflict until you both have cooled down and are able to compromise or collaborate.

Move on to Level VI: Communication Skills