Most of the times you do not want conflict to go unaddressed. It is your job as a leader to ensure that your team engages in healthy and productive conflict and to make sure that conflict is not ignored. After all desperately hoping that an issue will just go away is a great way to turn a small issue into a gigantic problem!

Then why is avoiding conflict is one of the recognized modes of conflict resolution as defined by the TKI or Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument? Well like it or not some people do prefer to handle conflict by not handling conflict (or avoiding conflict) AND there are absolutely times when the smart choice is to avoid conflict.

When would you ever consciously choose to avoid conflict? An obvious situation is if you are faced by a physically threatening situation. Sometimes it is best to back down and live to see another day.

Conflict avoidance might also be a form of diplomacy. Consider these situations:

  • The issue at hand is trivial and it really is more important to move on to other things.
  • You have absolutely no chance of satisfying your concerns and you have no absolutely no power in the situation. An example of this would be trying to take on your management team over the company dress code.
  • The costs of confronting the conflict outweigh the benefits of the resolution. Perhaps you have heard the expression, choose your battles wisely?
  • People need some time to cool off from a tense situation. This is a temporary avoidance of the conflict, once people cool off, you will need to move forward.
  • To gather more information and then reconvene. This is also a temporary avoidance of the conflict. You are not letting it go completely; you are just waiting until you have better information to use to resolve the conflict.
  • You are not the right person to resolve the conflict; there are others who can resolve the conflict more effectively. This means you avoid the conflict, it does not mean that the conflict is not going to be resolved.

The key to conflict avoidance is to know what types of issues can be left unresolved, what types of issues need a cooling down period and what types of issues do not require your intervention.

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Author's Bio: 

Margaret developed a passionate belief that it takes courage and skill to be human at work and that all individuals have a responsibility to treat each other with dignity, respect and compassion.

Motivated by her beliefs and the desire to make a difference in the lives of others, Margaret acted on her vision by founding Meloni Coaching Solutions, Inc. Her vision is to create a group of successful individuals who are at peace with their authentic selves; a group of people who help and support others; a group who bring humanity to the office and thrive because of it. Margaret sees a world where achieving peace and achieving success go hand-in-hand.

Margaret’s students and clients often find that what she really brings them is freedom to bring their authentic selves to the office. As a former Information Technology Executive, Margaret always knew her preference was for the people behind the technology. Now Margaret brings those beliefs to individuals from many professional backgrounds. The common thread across her client base is the desire to experience peace at work and the recognition that peace is not absence of conflict, peace is the ability to cope with conflict. For these people, Margaret Meloni is truly ‘A Path to Peace’. ™

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Margaret Meloni, the Official Guide to Conflict Resolution