Coaching

Avoidance is Never an Effective Conflict Style to Choose. (See Why)

Avoidance is Never an Effective Conflict Style to Choose.

Conflict is not pleasant. Many employees avoid it so they do not have to endure arguments and disagreements. However, avoidance is never an effective conflict style to choose. Conflict avoidance often causes problems down the road. Better to suffer a little unpleasantness up front and ward off a lot of unpleasantness down the road. This case study on conflict avoidance will enable you to be more effective regarding how to deal with someone who avoids conflict.

The Situation:

Sarah is COO for a nationwide manufacturing company.

Alice manages one of the plants, which is across the country from headquarters. Her strong organizational skills and attention to detail led to a successful opening for the facility five years ago.

Though the plant continues to be profitable, productivity has been off for several quarters. Rumor has it that some labor issues may be hurting efficiency.

If You Avoid Conflict to Keep the Peace

When Sarah asked Alice to submit a productivity report, Alice glossed over the problems as temporary. Her Q3 easygoing, conflict avoidant approach tends to smooth over difficulty. Sarah followed up with a phone call, and Alice assured her that a flu outbreak was probably the culprit. “You’ll see, those numbers will bounce back. Things are fine!”

Sarah doesn’t think the flu really explains a two-quarter slide in productivity. She knows that avoidance is never an effective conflict style to choose. And she’s frustrated because Alice seems too dismissive of the problem and won’t really acknowledge any trouble. Alice seems to be glossing over a conflict.  How to deal with her effectively to progress on this issue?

Dimensional Model of Behavior

I Hate Confrontation

When dealing with Q3 behavior that shuns confrontation, which approach can increase the likelihood of discussing a problem honestly and openly?

A. Let’s face it: Q3 is unconfrontational and will continue to gloss over the problem. Better to get the information from a difference source.

B. Create an atmosphere of trust and use a “What’s In It for Me” benefit statement to provide a safe environment for Q3.

C. Put your foot down and demand answers. You can’t let Q3 continue to dance around such serious concerns!

Why is Avoidance Ineffective as a Conflict Resolution Strategy

Here’s Your Q4 Answer!

Hi, I’m Patricia Bagsby and I have the Q4 answer.

The Challenges of Working with Q3 Behavior.

To avoid confrontation or unpleasantness, Q3 likes to sweep behaviors under the rug. It can be tempting to go around Q3 or to demand answers, but neither of those behaviors will engage trust. That’s why B is the correct answer. Sarah can use her Q4 leadership skills to help Alice be more candid and analytical about the situation.

What about Benefits & Consequences?

With Q3, Sarah should stress the positive results that can come from solving issues. By surfacing problems and showing a willingness to tackle them, plant employees and leadership will see her in a positive light.

How About Consequences for NOT Acting?

Why is avoidance ineffective as a conflict resolution strategy? If Alice continues to avoid confronting the issue, the company could suffer, particularly the people working closely with Alice.

To Recap…

It’s important for Sarah to help Alice understand that being candid is an important way to build trust with those around her. That trust will increase productivity and positively increase harmony and morale.
Thanks for watching.

Beyond Conflict Avoidance

So now you have read how avoidance is never an effective conflict style to choose, and why. If you are eager for more learning, our 40 other people leadership tips will teach you how to handle a variety of challenging people leadership situations.

Do you work with any difficult people?  Check out our behavior questionnaire, which provides suggestions on dealing with them.

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