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Competing, Accommodating, and Compromising – The TKI Conflict Model

Competing, Accommodating, and Compromising – The TKI Conflict Model


In this article, Ralph Kilmann explains his TKI Conflict Model and identifies four primary ways people deal with conflict: competing, accommodating, compromising, and collaborating. He sheds light on conflict management patterns and highlights the importance of understanding them; explaining why this makes mediation an even more valuable tool in dispute resolution.

Competing, accommodating, and compromising all fall on the distributive dimension — on the diagonal from the upper-left mode to the lower-right mode on the TKI conflict model.

Competing is assertive and uncooperative: I get what I want, but you don’t get what you want. Accommodating is just the opposite (unassertive and cooperative): You get all your needs met, but I don’t get my needs met. Compromising is in the middle: We each get part of what we want, but we both remain unfulfilled in other ways.

The common feature with these three modes is their zero-sum, win/lose nature: The more you get, the less I get (and vice versa), since the size of the pie is fixed. Essentially, we slide up and down the seesaw on the distributive dimension, deciding how to distribute the available pieces of that fixed pie. In mathematical terms, competing is when I get 100% of the pie and you get 0%. Accommodating is when you get 100% and I get 0%. Compromising, in its pure form, is when we each get 50% of the pie. But the total of what both of us receive from our resolution always adds to 100.

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