Blogs By
Ralph H. Kilmann

Addressing the four timeless topics: conflict,
change, consciousness, and transformation

The culture of a family, community, or organization partially determines whether a given conflict mode (particularly collaborating) can be used effectively. In this discussion, I will briefly outline how the actual cultural norms can first be identified and then changed into desired norms—so that all conflict modes can be used effectively....

Lately, I seem to be getting more requests to reduce the complexity of conflict management and the TKI Assessment into a few simple "tips" that people can quickly learn and use. I've had a great reluctance to do this in the past, given my many years of decrying the use of quick fixes for addressing complex problems. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and see what happens! So, here are my SIX TIPS...

In 1970, while enrolled in UCLA’s doctoral program in the behavioral sciences, I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) assessment for the first time. I came out as an INFP—very slight on I, moderate on F, but very clear on N and P. Later, as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, I published several books and articles using psychological type to classify, for example, different organizational and group structures, different criteria for measuring organizational effectiveness, and different steps for defining and solving complex problems....

To highlight the value of seeing the big picture (as represented by the "Quantum Wheel") and transforming an old Newtonian organization into a new quantum organization, let me share with you what I learned from a three-day workshop that I conducted for the fifty senior executives of a large division of a Fortune 100 company....

The typical TKI lesson is learning to choose when to use each conflict mode, depending on the key characteristics of the conflict situation—for example, the amount of stress involved, the time available for resolution, the relative importance of the issue to each person, and the conflict’s complexity. Yet rarely discussed are the two very different ways that each mode can, in practice, be used, and which result in different outcomes....

Since the early 1970s, two dimensions have been used to plot the five conflict modes: Assertiveness and Cooperativeness (my attempts to satisfy my own needs versus my attempts to satisfy the other person's needs, respectively). During the past decade, however, I have often modified those two underlying dimensions to draw special attention to unique kinds of conflicts....

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assesses five conflict modes: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. These five behavioral choices are defined by two underlying dimensions: assertiveness and cooperativeness....