Self-Assessment: How Do You Manage Conflict?

By Donna Deeprose

When flaring tempers disrupt the workplace or disputes between employees threaten to hamper performance, how do you respond? For some insight on your approach to conflict resolution, take the assessment below. Choose the option that most closely matches what you would do in each situation. There are no right or wrong answers.

1. If a meeting broke into a shouting match between two or more participants would you:
Call a break to give tempers a chance to cool down. Then restart the meeting and get back to business.
Facilitate a discussion to get to the heart of the problem and lead the group to consensus on the issue.
Make a fast decision on the controversial topic and move on.
2. If two people who worked for you had a serious disagreement over what action to take to meet a specific objective, would you:
Make the decision yourself.
Ask them to work it out between them.
Help them come to better solution they could both support.
3. If you had recently added several newcomers to your staff of long-term employees and the two groups were constantly polarized, would you:
Hold a team-building session.
Let the situation resolve itself over time.
Tell them clearly how you expect them all to behave.
4. If you received a complaint from another manager that one of your employees had been argumentative and disruptive in an interdepartmental meeting, would you:
Get your employee’s side of the story.
Tell your employee to apologize.
Send someone else to the next meeting.
5. If you had two people working for you who constantly argued, never agreeing on anything, would you:
Bring in a coach to help them learn to get along better together.
Ignore them unless their bickering disrupted the work.
Stop their arguments by resolving their disputes for them quickly.
6. If an employee lost her temper at a difficult customer, would you:
Take over and solve the customer’s problem yourself.
Discuss with the employee why the confrontation occurred and help her understand what she could do differently another time.
Stay out of the way unless the customer demanded to talk to you.
7. If two employees argued over the use of a piece of equipment, would you:
Create a schedule for using the equipment.
Tell them to work it out between them.
Work with them both to find a solution that best matched both their needs.
8. If a mistake occurred and two employees each blamed the other for it, would you:
Do your own investigation, identify the culprit, and punish him.
Focus on solving the problem instead of blaming a culprit.
Arrange for training for everyone so no one will make that mistake again.
9. If two employees, both wanting the same promotion, sought to discredit each other by innuendo and rumors, would you:
Explain to them that this behavior was undermining both their chances and give them an opportunity to change.
Give the promotion to a third person.
Ignore their behavior as long as it didn’t erupt into open warfare.
10. If two employees had an ongoing argument and everyone else in the unit started taking sides, seriously disrupting work, would you:
Fire the person who started it (or get her transferred out of your unit).
Bring in an expert on conflict resolution for a meeting with the whole group.
Focus on catching up on the overdue work rather than on the argument.

Editor: The answers are:
1: Avoidance, Facilitation, Arbitration;
2: Arbitration, Avoidance, Facilitation;
3: Facilitation, Avoidance, Arbitration;
4: Facilitation, Arbitration, Avoidance;
5: Facilitation, Avoidance, Arbitration;
6: Arbitration, Facilitation, Avoidance;
7: Arbitration, Avoidance, Facilitation;
8: Arbitration, Avoidance, Facilitation;
9: Facilitation, Arbitration, Avoidance;
10: Arbitration, Facilitation, Avoidance.

To score the whole assessment, just add up the number of times the user chooses each approach. Do not have these words pop up while they are answering the questions—that could encourage them to gear their answers toward a particular approach.

Here’s how you scored on each approach:


The responses to the situations differentiate among three approaches to conflict:

Arbitration: making a unilateral decision on what action to take to stop the conflict.

Avoidance: staying out of the fray, either by ignoring the conflict or by focusing attention elsewhere.

Facilitation: working with the combatants to help them arrive at a solution that satisfies all.

To learn more about your own approach, click on the approach with the highest score. If two approaches tie for highest, click on either one.

Thanks for taking this assessment. We hope it gave you new ideas for dealing with conflict in the future.

If you would like to improve your conflict resolution skills, consider the following AMA seminars:

Click here for information about AMA seminars.

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