Good and Bad Avoiding

Dr. Ralph H. Kilmann, CEO of Kilmann Diagnostics and coauthor of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict-Mode Instrument (TKI)

There are two kinds of “avoiding” to keep in mind: good avoiding and bad avoiding. Good avoiding is when you purposely leave a conflict situation in order to collect more information, wait for tempers to calm down, or because you’ve concluded that what you first thought was a vital issue isn’t that important after all. Bad avoiding, however, is when the topic is very important to both persons (and to the organization), but you aren’t comfortable with confronting other people: Instead, you’re inclined to sacrifice your needs for others—which undermines your self-esteem, leaves you perpetually dissatisfied, and prevents you from learning from others.

Bottom line: Only avoid when that approach to conflict serves to satisfy your needs as well as the needs of others—whether in the short term or long term. But don’t avoid conflict simply because that mode is unfamiliar or uncomfortable to you. With awareness and practice (which builds self-confidence), you can easily learn to get both your needs and the other person’s needs met—for the best of both worlds.

Kilmann Diagnostics offers five online courses: (1) BASIC Training in Conflict Management (an eighty-minute course), (2) ADVANCED Training in Conflict Management (an eight-hour course), (3) Culture Management Course (a six-hour course), (4) Critical Thinking Course (a six-hour course), and (5) Team Management Course (a four-hour course). These courses make expert use of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and other assessment tools. Since these courses are recorded, they can be taken on any day, at any time, and at your own pace. Get more information by visiting

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