Successful People Think Win-Win In Conflict Situations

Relationship building is one of the four keys to career success in my Career Success GPS System.  I discuss it in detail in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Star Power, I Want YOU…To Succeed, Your success GPS, and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  As a career success coach, I am always reminding my clients that they must build strong, long lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in their lives. 

Unfortunately, no human relationship is without conflict.  That’s why you have to become adept at resolving conflict positively.

I know a little bit about conflict resolution.  It was the topic of my dissertation at Harvard.  Way back in the 1970’s Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed an instrument to measure a person’s tendencies when in a conflict situation.

They came up with five predominant conflict styles: Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Accommodating and Avoiding.  Their research suggests that all five are appropriate depending on the situation.

As a career success coach however, I have found that the Collaborating style is your best default mode.  When you collaborate with others to resolve conflict, you focus on meeting both your needs and needs of the other person. I like this style because it helps you bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution.

When you collaborate, neither person is likely to feel as if he or she won or lost.  Also, collaborating with the person or persons with whom you are in conflict creates the opportunity for you to work together to build a solution that best addresses everyone’s concerns.

I find that when I work collaboratively with someone, I focus on our similarities, not our differences.  This creates a bond that not only helps us get through our conflict, but helps us strengthen our relationship.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people build strong, positive, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in their lives.  No relationship is without conflict. That’s why it’s important to become adept at resolving conflict in a positive manner.  Collaboration is the best choice for handling most conflict situations.  When you collaborate with others – especially those with whom you are in conflict — you not only are likely to resolve your conflict in a positive manner, you will strengthen your relationship with the other person.  It’s a win-win.  Take it from a long time career success coach, collaboration – focusing on where you agree and building a solution together is the best way to resolve conflicts that can damage your relationships.

That’s my take on handling conflict productively.  What’s yours?  As always, I’m interested in your perspective on these thoughts.  I welcome and appreciate your comments.  Thanks for reading.


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  1. Bud,

    I agree. I hate conflict, but sometimes things can be very difficult. At first I would have thought compromise would be best, but then someone generally gets less of what they want. Collaborating would allow for face saving more so than compromise. I am really enjoying reading the articles you have written. I wish I would have stumbled on to them earlier in my career.


  2. Donna:
    Thanks for your comment. Conflict is inevitable, but we can use it to help build, rather than destroy relationships.

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