Conflict Handling – The Collaborative Style


By Tasha M. Troy

Over the last five to ten years, one of my greatest pleasures has been working with my co-teachers.  In fact, because we teach the same students  in different contexts, the last few years I’ve had to work particularly close with my fellow instructors in planning and implementing lessons.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

As we are discussing an upcoming lesson, I might suggest an activity that my colleague doesn’t particularly like for some reason.  Then she may suggest something I’ve tried before that didn’t go over so well.  Then we come up with a third version, a hybrid that addresses the issues that didn’t work in the past and emphasizes the skills we want the students to focus on.  By taking multiple perspectives into consideration, a richer, more inclusive plan can be crafted.

As Colonel “Hannibal” Smith of the A-Team used to say, I love it when a plan comes together!

Sometimes referred to as “win-win,” the collaborating style of conflict resolution usually produces the most lasting results.  When both sides have a voice in crafting the solution, both can walk away happy with the conclusion of the matter, not merely mollified.

This style is as much, it not more so, about the process of reaching an agreement than it is about the agreement itself.  It requires a high level of self disclosure from all parties if a truly collaborative result is to be achieved.  Of course, this also requires a high level of trust, which doesn’t come easy in most cases.


While it may produce the most favorable outcomes, this style also takes the most time and effort to reach a resolution. The tricky part is that it depends on both sides being committed to seeing the process through.

Additionally, if trust has been eroded prior to engaging in this process, that must be addressed before any other issues can be resolved.  Incremental progress on smaller issues while trust is reestablished is essential.


The key benefit of spending all the time necessary to work out a truly collaborative solution is that all involved will ideally buy into the solution.  The best solutions take everyone’s concerns into consideration and create a unique answer to the problem or conflict.

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net


Links and Resources:

“Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively”

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

Trust: The Linchpin of Influence 

Are you ready to become a REAL Success?  Check out the schedule for a Mastermind Group starting soon.


Check out the rest of this series!

The Competitive Style

The Avoiding Style

The Accommodating Style

The Compromising Style

The Value of Disagreement


While many see reaching agreement as the goal of dialogue and conflict resolution, Margaret Heffernan sees value in disagreement, even deep disagreements.  In this TED Talk, she gives examples and explains how disagreement can be a healthy thing for individuals and organizations.