5 Cases

For this unit’s portfolio activity, I will look at five cases to suggest the appropriate conflict resolution style for each using Thomas Kilmann’s conflict modes theory and four conflict types described by an article by Eric Feigenbaum (n.d.). Let us look at the situations and discuss the most likely course of conflicts.


Laura has planned to take a day off this week. Her supervisor Tara noticed that work demands will be high on the day of her request. She wants Laura to reschedule her day off with the promise to allow her flex time and leave as soon as the job is accomplished.

Here a Role Conflict takes place between Laura and her supervisor Tara as it is “caused by circumstances related to their roles and duties” (Feigenbaum, 2016, para. 4). The most predictable scenario for the development of the case would be Compromising or lose-lose resolution – the practical and easy way out, for both parties might agree with the temporary solution, but neither party gets what they want.

Meanwhile, Laura could decline the supervisor’s offer and insist on a win-lose resolution, Competing, where Tara submits the day off and then consider three-way to proceed:

  • Double-check for differences in goals (Sharma, n.d.); what level of Laura’s motivation, trust, and openness to the lead manager is;

  • Reconsider the instruction for taking a day off;

  • Be ready next time to have a substitute for Laura.


Two talented but aggressive teammates want to show off their skills during a project meeting. One wants to take credit for the work he has done and the other tries to advance his ideas front and center. The team leader wants these two to work together well.

The conflict arises, for both parties have high competition and ineffective control over the group (Sharma, n.d.). According to Feigenbaum (n.d.), it can be a Maturity-Immaturity Theory as teammates show off their ideas to take credit for their work, “grow and mature with increasing levels of responsibility and opportunity” (Feigenbaum, 2016, para.7). 

In this case, there are two possible scenarios – Competing (win-lose) and Collaborating (win-win), and mostly it depends on how effective are the steps the manager takes:

  1. Leave the situation as it is;

  2. Mediate: be clear on the collaborative style in the team; plus determine benefits and promotion program about team achievement;

  3. Remove one of the competitors for inability to work in a team. 


A company picnic is being planned. Two subgroups are tasked to come up with a fun and enjoyable program for the employees and their families. One group has its own set of group activities while the other group leans more toward individual participation. At a recent communication meeting, the two groups have expressed their desire to work together.

Assuming an Inter-group Conflict occurs as “both are just trying to do their jobs, but somehow run up against each other” (Feigenbaum, 2016, para. 9). That functional conflict supports the goal and helps invigorate the picnic entertainment program. Perhaps, poor organization and unclear instruction distract both teams’ communication. Thus mediation could rectify the situation and turn the misunderstanding into a Collaborative problem-solving model that leads to a win-win resolution.


Responding to the rumor mill, Mary confronted Alyssa at a coffee break for spreading lies about her love life. Mary was relentless and fuming mad about the situation. Entering the cafeteria, coworker Latisha witnessed the entire argument.

Considering Mary’s feelings involved, it is an Interpersonal Conflict. There are two possible modes for the emotionally charged situation – Avoiding (lose-lose) and Accommodating (win-lose). Most likely, Latisha tries to avoid the conflict until Mary calms down. Although there is a possibility that Latisha decides to either comfort Mary or help Alyssa; the strategy preserves the harmony of future relations and reinforces Latisha’s relationship with colleges.


Mario who works as a front-line employee in a packing company is one of the most reliable in the group. One day, he received a phone call from his wife informing him that the babysitter for their two sons fell sick. He would have to come home because the wife must leave for work within the next hour. The line is short-staffed and supervisor Mark wants Mario to complete his duties.  

It seems there is an overlap of two problems – Role Conflict vs. Interpersonal Conflicts. Taking into account the emergency, some emotions may ramp up. Mario could Avoid (lose-lose): upset with a supervisor’s decision could affect his trust and openness. Alternatively, Mario could insist on the emergency and Compromise (lose-lose) for a temporary solution, or even Compete (win-lose) for achieving his own goal (less likely).

Compromising is the optimum scenario here as it helps preserve trust and personal attitude.

For deciding which conflict mode is more probable in each case, I consider three parameters: timing (relevance), time to proceed with the conflict (emergency), and trust level. These characteristics help to anticipate the outcome and, if needed, adjust the future scenario to a desirable conflict resolution. In other words, check the circumstances, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the course of action. Now I need to apply the approach to my work situation.


Feigenbaum, E. (n.d.). Organizational conflict theory. Chron. 

Psychologysketchbook (2016, September 19). Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument [Video]. YouTube.

Sharma, P. (n.d.). Group Conflicts: 2 Main Types of Group Conflicts (With Diagram) | Business Management. YourArticleLibrary.

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