How to behave in a conflict situation: choosing an effective strategy for behavior in conflict

Once in a situation of conflict, a person chooses a model of behavior based on the circumstances and subjective state.

The nature of behavior in a conflict situation is similar, while each conflict has its own characteristics. To resolve disagreements, knowledge is needed: what actions need to be taken, what words to choose, what manner of behavior should be to resolve it.

What is meant by a conflict situation?

A conflict situation is a lack of agreement between the parties, arising due to opposing values, interests, judgments and goals of the parties.

It is generally accepted that a conflict is necessarily accompanied by open opposition from its participants, quarrels, negative emotions, etc. But this is not always the case. The process of solving a problem and its outcome depend on the correctly chosen strategy of behavior.

What mistakes does a conflicting person make?

Very often in conflicts a person relies on his own emotions rather than on common sense. This is why it is difficult to find a solution acceptable to both parties. The most common mistakes are that a person acts selfishly and acts under the influence of emotions. He does not want to solve the problem, but defends only his own opinion, which makes it difficult to find a compromise. The participant in the conflict does not want to take into account that there are many paths to a solution, but acts only within the framework of established norms or traditions. It also happens that a person, in principle, does not want to solve the problem - he either agrees with everyone, or switches to another topic, ignoring important issues.

Examples of conflict resolution

To better understand how each strategy works, let's look at them using specific examples.


This strategy involves resolving conflict situations through mutual concessions from both parties. Each participant in the conflict makes concessions, sacrificing some of his own interests in exchange for the concessions of the other, in order to ultimately come to a common solution that will suit both of them.

The compromise strategy is usually chosen in situations where there is a goal to reach an agreement in a conflict, but in such a way that each party wins at least something, when the conflicting parties recognize each other’s interests and values ​​and want the outcome of the conflict to be as objective as possible.

The use of compromise is justified if the parties to the conflict have mutually exclusive interests and are in equal conditions. Often this method is used as the last opportunity to resolve a controversial situation while preserving the relationship.

Example: A husband wants his wife to cook dinner every day. And my wife says that she gets tired after work, especially since she also has to wash the dishes. Then the spouses find a compromise solution: the wife cooks and the husband washes the dishes.


The cooperation strategy involves the longest and most detailed study of a controversial issue. Resolving a conflict situation is not the main goal here; the most important thing is to satisfy the interests of each participant in the dispute and develop a mutually beneficial long-term solution to the problem.

Cooperation will be justified and effective if the resolution of the conflict is equally important for all its participants, they are interested in maintaining good long-term relations with each other and are ready to clearly formulate the essence of their claims and interests, listen (the main thing is to hear) the opponent.

The cooperation strategy is ideal for resolving conflict situations with loved ones and relatives, as it involves long and repeated negotiations between the parties.

Collaboration often feels like compromise. The strategies are similar because they can only be used if both parties are interested in resolving the conflict and maintaining the relationship. The key difference between the strategies is that a compromise is achieved at a superficial level and the parties to the conflict are not necessarily in a long-term relationship, but cooperation involves a deeper study of the controversial issue; the conflicting parties, as a rule, are in close and long-term relationships, and therefore are interested in a long-term solution to the issue .

For example , a family with children came to relax at the seaside. On one of the days of rest, the husband and children wanted to spend time actively, so they suggested going to the water park. On the contrary, my wife planned to lie on the beach and sunbathe. Then the husband and wife discuss the current situation and decide to go to the water park with the whole family, because there are slides for active recreation and sun loungers to lie on. As a result, the issue was resolved, each participant in the conflict satisfied their interests.


This model of exiting a conflict situation is most often formed in early childhood. You can identify it using the online test “How your parents raised you as a child.”

Adaptation is a way of smoothing out or resolving a conflict when one of its participants, sacrificing their interests and opinions, yields to another participant, accepting his version of solving the problem.

This strategy is used when:

· the outcome of the conflict is extremely important for the opponent, but at the same time the yielding side “loses almost nothing”;

· maintaining good relationships is more important than standing up for being right;

· the yielding party chooses an adaptation in order to ultimately achieve a resolution of the conflict in its favor in a roundabout way;

· during a dispute, the yielding party realizes that the opponent is truly right;

· the opponent has more power.

Adaptive behavior is justified if the conflict is not that significant, but the disagreements that arise can ruin the relationship. That is, making concessions or losing in a conflict will help maintain relationships with your opponent, which in a particular situation is much more important than defending your position.

If the conflict is serious and greatly violates personal boundaries or affects your life values, then the adaptation will be ineffective, because the opponent will decide that everything is in order and will violate the boundaries again next time. Such a situation may ultimately result in an even more serious conflict, since the dissatisfaction you have accumulated will sooner or later burst out, or will remain “with you” as passive aggression.

Example strategy : you have a rule that you don’t let anyone wear your clothes. A friend came to visit and accidentally spilled coffee on her T-shirt. You love your friend very much and, of course, you will help her out and, as an exception, let her wear your T-shirt.

Convenient woman, who is she?


A person who chooses a strategy of competition in a conflict situation is determined to defeat his opponent no matter what.

Typically, rivalry involves open conflict, when its participants try to prove to each other that they are right, resorting to pressure, raised voices, often insults, or even the use of physical force.

The reasons for this method of conflict resolution may be: protecting life and health, defending personal boundaries when they are violated, a constant desire for leadership in everything, bad manners, and self-centeredness.

Rivalry is unjustified when you are trying to prove that you are right, regardless of the situation and the importance of maintaining a good relationship with your opponent. In conflict situations with close relatives or friends, with children and spouses who are very significant to us, the strategy of competition will fail.

There are situations in life when competition is a necessary strategy of behavior. It should be used if the life and health (yours or those close to you) are in danger, your personal boundaries are severely violated, or your opponent, as they say, simply “does not understand in a good way.” The strategy is also justified in cases where it is necessary to protect someone from physical or moral violence, or unjustified rash acts.

Do you want to witness the conflict from a competitive position? You just need to go to a public place. Although, unfortunately, most often it is in clinics, shops and public catering places that such conflicts are unjustified, and indicate bad manners and emotional licentiousness of those in conflict.

An example of using a strategy : the neighbors listen to music loudly after 23-00, and you are getting ready for bed. In this situation, your neighbors are violating your personal boundaries, so the best thing to do is to go down to the floor below and remind you that night has fallen. Often this is enough. But sometimes the violators, nodding their heads, 10 minutes later again disturb the neighbors’ peace at night. In this case, it would be best to first warn, and if this does not help, call the police.


This strategy involves leaving, self-elimination, and removing oneself from a conflict situation.

Avoidance of conflict can be expressed both physically - leaving, running away, hanging up the phone, and emotionally - silence, ignoring the topic of conversation, trying to start a conversation on another topic.

Thus, a person does not try to adapt, come to a common decision, or go into open conflict. The reason for this behavior can be both self-doubt and lack of motivation, energy or time to clarify the situation.

If a conflict situation directly affects your interests, then avoidance is not an appropriate way to solve the problem. Yes, you will save your nerve cells and time, but then the conflict will remain unresolved and will only get worse, or it will be resolved, but without your participation, and therefore without taking into account your opinion.

The avoidance strategy is good in situations where the conflict does not directly affect your interests at the moment; whether it is resolved or not does not matter much to you.

The situation with neighbors is also suitable as an example Let’s say this is not the first time your neighbors have turned on music this late, and you know that after about an hour they usually turn it off. And just in the next hour you are not going to sleep, and the noise does not interfere with your business. The best option would be not to waste your strength and avoid a possible conflict.

The second stage of resolving the controversial issue

This stage involves resolving a conflict situation. This must be done in accordance with the style of behavior you have chosen. In this case, you and your opponent will need to set your own limits, which each party will have to accept. At this stage, you will have to very quickly rebuild your judgment and maneuver the situation quite skillfully.

There are a number of rules that are recommended to be followed during the discussion:

  1. Don't close yourself off from your interlocutor. The “hands on chest” pose is inappropriate here.
  2. There is no need to look closely at your opponent, as this can lead to aggression on his part.
  3. In no case do not answer in the same tone if it is harsh, since subsequently you will not be able to hear the interlocutor, and he will not be able to hear you.
  4. You cannot immediately give a negative assessment to the opinion of the other side.
  5. Don't interrupt. Make it clear in every possible way that you are listening and understanding what is being said to you, and be lenient with your opponent.
  6. Accept the person for who they are and do not take profanity or other profane language coming out of their mouth personally. This will avoid personality clashes.
  7. Exercise constant control over your actions, emotions, speech and facial expressions. If you behave calmly, passions can subside significantly.
  8. It is recommended to show your opponent your feelings about his position, rather than immediately presenting him with an assessment of his opinion. This behavior will lead to more reasoned and detailed answers from the interlocutor. You absolutely need to clearly understand what the other party to the conflict means.
  9. Do not use filler words in your speech; use only clear verbal expressions for your interlocutor, which he can easily understand. Do not under any circumstances show your intellectual advantage over him.
  10. It is necessary to periodically distract the other side from the dispute, even for a short time. These methods can be considered the need to make an important call, a request to the interlocutor to move him to another place in the room, as well as anything else that you consider appropriate in such a situation.

Calmness and balance are your allies

Among other things, you should wait a little time with your response to your opponent’s opinion. All his demands or phrases should be ignored, and periodic pauses should be made in the conversation.

It is not at all necessary to immediately answer all the questions of the disputant - it is best to distract him from this through other questions that do not correspond to the given topic. This will allow you to more carefully consider the style of your behavior to resolve conflict.

When the other side calms down a little and stops arguing its position, you are advised to evaluate its opinion, but in such a way that it understands its importance too. Here you can suggest making some adjustments to the interlocutor’s idea, which will help in solving the problem. Fulfilling this requirement in any situation leaves the most negatively minded opponent unarmed.

How to choose a strategy?

Of the five strategies listed above, it is impossible to single out one that will be the only correct one.

The choice of behavior strategy in a conflict depends on several factors.

1. The essence of the conflict . When a conflict arises, you need to ask yourself the question: is this situation . Is it really so important that I need to get into an argument or try to negotiate? Which behavior in a particular situation will be more effective? If it turns out that clarifying a controversial issue does not affect your interests, the best course of action would be to avoid the conflict.

2. Interest of the parties . If you understand that it is important for you to clarify the situation and an evasion strategy will not work, you need to understand how interested your opponent is in resolving the conflict. If this is just as important for him, you can start negotiations, that is, choose a strategy of cooperation or compromise.

3. The significance of the relationship with the opponent. When choosing a strategy for behavior in a conflict, you need to understand how important it is to maintain further good relations with your opponent. If maintaining the relationship is important, then, depending on the situation, you can choose cooperation, compromise or accommodation. If it is vitally important to defend your rightness, regardless of further relationships, then competition will be the most suitable strategy.

4. Own psychological attitude . There are situations when it is necessary to resolve a conflict situation, but there is neither moral strength nor desire to do so. In this case, the best option would be evasion or adaptation. This way, you will give yourself time to rest and recover so that later you can return to resolving the conflict with renewed vigor.

How to survive a crisis in a close relationship.

Rules of conduct in conflicts: recommendations from psychologists

Despite the fact that conflictology is an independent discipline that examines this situation at a scientific level, there is a human factor in the development of any confrontation. Therefore, rules of behavior in conflict situations are often developed by psychologists, whose competence is to take this into account. Expert recommendations are as follows:

  • Opportunity to speak out. Most conflicts arise for two reasons - a person is too tense and irritated to listen to the other, or cannot express his point of view. In any case, to solve a problem, you need to speak out, let off steam, listen to the other side and convey your position.
  • Eliminate aggression. Every person wants his opinion to be taken into account, and if this does not happen, many begin to get angry and irritated. It is likely that the opponent will begin to show aggression. In this case, it is necessary to disrupt the attack with non-standard and unexpected techniques. For example, you can ask about something that does not relate to the subject of the conflict. Or you can ask for advice on how, in his opinion, the conflict situation can be resolved. The main thing is to switch your attention to positive emotions.
  • No "reciprocity". Rules of conduct in conflicts often insist that one cannot respond to aggression with aggression. It is better to ask your opponent to tell you what he wants to get in the end. After all, the main thing is the result, and people often, seeing a problem, become fixated on their emotions regarding it.
  • Respect. You cannot say that your opponent is doing the wrong thing. It's better to talk about your feelings. For example, impulsive: “You betrayed me!” — replace with surprised: “I feel betrayed.” You should not insult your opponent and ignore his words.
  • No evidence. In conflicts, you can rarely prove anything. It is better to pay attention to the other side's words by asking simple questions about their position. You should be on an equal footing with your partner, talk calmly and confidently, then your opponent will calm down his aggression.
  • Apology. The best way to discourage an angry opponent is to apologize. But this is only if the feeling and awareness of one’s own guilt is present.
  • Save the relationship. Regardless of how the dispute is resolved, it is better to say directly what in a certain situation caused a negative reaction and why. Politeness and sincerity are the main ingredients for resolving conflicts. This is better than understatement, which will subsequently lead to a break in the relationship.

Conflict situations with loved ones

Family and friends are the closest people, relationships with whom play an important role in our lives. Therefore, when disagreements arise, it is important to maintain good relationships with these people. Rivalry in such conflicts will be inappropriate. The most correct decision would be to compromise or start negotiations and satisfy the interests of all parties.

In some situations, it is better to remain silent, avoid a showdown (often the problem resolves itself), or choose an accommodation when the outcome of the conflict is extremely important for a loved one.

An environmental quarrel or how to resolve a conflict peacefully.

Instructions for taking the test

Below you will be given 30 pairs of judgments. You need to choose the one that, in your opinion, most closely matches your usual behavior. You don't need to think about the answers for a long time. There are no right or wrong answers to the test, and the more honest you are with yourself, the more reliable your results will be. It takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete the test. Once the test is completed, you will be able to review the test key and answer interpretation.

Conflict situations at work

During the work process, colleagues often have misunderstandings both on work-related issues and as a result of personal disagreements.

Employee - employee

In conflict situations with colleagues of your rank, any of five strategies will be suitable, depending on the situation. But still, rivalry is best used as a last resort. If disagreements relate to work issues, it would be wiser to negotiate with your opponent to come to a compromise solution. It is important to express your point of view, since you and your opponent are on equal terms. Evasion and adaptation in most matters will not be justified.

To avoid conflicts related to personal relationships, it is important to remember that during working hours you need to primarily focus on fulfilling your duties, leaving personal communication for a while after work. Of course, personal communication is necessary, and it will be present in any case. But gossip and conversations on too personal topics should not be supported.

Is it possible to avoid a conflict situation?

You can learn how to resolve conflict correctly and control your emotional state. It will be possible to avoid a quarrel if one of the opponents does not want to enter into it.

How to avoid:

  1. Before expressing your opinion, take your time and answer yourself: “What was the reason for the dispute? Do you need it? What will you lose if you give in in an argument?”;
  2. The answer should be short and measured. This response lowers the intensity. And you don’t have the opportunity to say too much.
  3. Do not provoke with unnecessary phrases and jokes. Don't pick on a person if he's not in the mood. It’s better to communicate with colleagues after lunch; everyone is more tense in the morning.
  4. Control your correspondence in instant messengers and social networks to avoid provocation. Unscrupulous people can use it against you.
  5. Try not to communicate with people who often initiate conflict situations or keep communication to a minimum. Do not meet with them outside of working hours, do not relax with them in company.

Test material

So, from each proposed pair of judgments, choose one that best characterizes your behavior

1 pair:

A) In some cases, I can give another person the opportunity to be responsible for resolving an ambiguous issue.

B) I strive to pay attention to points of agreement rather than differences of opinion.

2 pair:

A) I always try to find a compromise

B) I always try to solve a problem in such a way that the interests of both mine and others are taken into account

3 pair:

A) Almost always I am adamant in achieving my goal

B) I almost always try to maintain good relationships.

4 pair:

A) I always strive for a compromise

B) In some cases, I can sacrifice my interests so that another person wins

5 pair:

A) In the process of resolving a conflict, I strive to find support from my opponent

B) I always try to make sure that tension does not arise

6 pair:

A) I always try to make sure that I don’t get into trouble.

B) I always strive to achieve my goal

7 pair:

A) I often try to postpone making a decision on a controversial issue in order to do it later

B) I can often make concessions in order to achieve a different goal.

8 pair:

A) As a rule, I always insist on my own

B) First of all, I always want to understand what the essence of all the issues and interests raised is

9 pair:

A) It seems to me that you should not always worry about disagreements

B) I do everything to make it the way I want

10 pair:

A) I am determined to achieve my goal

B) Most often I strive to find a compromise solution

11 pair:

A) First of all, I always want to understand what the essence of all the issues and interests raised is

B) I almost always try to maintain good relationships.

12 pair:

A) More often than not, I try to avoid positions that could cause controversy.

B) I can easily meet someone else halfway if he is also ready to make concessions

13 pair:

A) More often I suggest finding a middle solution

B) More often than not I continue to insist on my opinion

14 pair:

A) I always explain my position to others and ask what he thinks

B) I always prove to others the logic of my judgments and the advantages of my position

15 pair:

A) I almost always try to maintain good relationships.

B) I always try to make sure that tension does not arise

16 pair:

A) I always take into account the feelings of others and try not to hurt them

B) I always prove to others the logic of my judgments and the advantages of my position

17 pair:

A) As a rule, I am persistent in achieving my goals

B) I always try to make sure that tension does not arise

18 pair:

A) I can allow a person to insist on his own if I know that he will be happy

B) I can easily meet someone else halfway if he is also ready to make concessions

19 pair:

A) First of all, I always want to understand what the essence of all the issues and interests raised is

B) I often try to postpone making a decision on a controversial issue in order to do it later

20 pair:

A) I always strive to immediately overcome disagreements

B) I am always tuned to the best combination of losses and benefits for everyone

21 pairs:

A) During the negotiation process, I always take into account the wishes of the other party

B) I like it better when the problem is discussed directly

22 pair:

A) I strive to take a position that will be in the middle between my personal and the opposite

B) I always strive to defend my desires

23 pair:

A) I am always concerned about whether the wishes of the other party are satisfied

B) In some cases, I can give another person the opportunity to be responsible for resolving an ambiguous issue.

24 pair:

A) If his position is very important for another person, I will meet him halfway

B) I try to persuade the other person to reach a compromise solution.

25 pair:

A) I always prove to others the logic of my judgments and the advantages of my position

B) During the negotiation process, I always take into account the wishes of the other party

26 pair:

A) More often I suggest finding a middle solution

B) Almost always I strive to ensure that the desires of all parties are satisfied

27 pair:

A) I try not to take potentially controversial positions.

B) I can allow a person to insist on his own if I know that he will be happy

28 pair:

A) As a rule, I am persistent in achieving my goals

B) In the process of resolving a conflict, I strive to find support from my opponent

29 pair:

A) More often I suggest finding a middle solution

B) It seems to me that you shouldn’t always worry about disagreements

30 pair:

A) I always try to make sure that the feelings of others are not hurt

B) Most often, I take such a position in a controversial situation so that both I and the other person achieve success

Now you can read the key to the test.

Key to the board

Review the table below and give yourself 1 point for each answer that matches the keys.

Now you can interpret the results.

Interpretation of test results

The number of points that you scored on each of the scales shows how pronounced your tendency towards a particular behavior in the process of conflict interaction is (the characteristics are indicated at the beginning). To find out which type of behavior is dominant in you, you just need to compare the scores for each of the forms and choose the one with the most points.

As already mentioned, Kenneth Thomas believed that the most constructive and productive strategy is cooperation, because only through it can all parties to the conflict benefit. However, some experts argue that it is most optimal to use all five strategies, and the best indicators are those when you score from 5 to 7 points for each type of behavior.

IMPORTANT ADDITION: If you want to take a few more tests to diagnose your behavior in conflicts, but in an automated form, then we suggest you take our course on self-knowledge. But we note that in it you will find not only a section and tests dedicated to conflict management, but also many other sections and tests that will reveal to you other features of your personality, show your advantages and indicate what is worth working on. You can find the course at this link.

We wish you success and try to avoid conflict situations!

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Key words:1Self-knowledge

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