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Understanding the Five Conflict Styles


Conflict is a part of life in relationships, and the way we handle conflict can say a lot about us. Many people have provided tools and strategies for navigating tension and issues effectively, but it is also helpful to understand people's common styles in conflict as a framework for navigating conflict. Understanding the common conflict styles will help you have a clearer understanding of the dynamics of conflict and increase your ability to navigate conflict. Five common conflict styles often taught are the Yielder, Withdrawer, Compromiser, Winner, and Resolver. Some strengths, weaknesses, and helpful questions for each style are listed below.


  • One strength of this role is that this person is often willing to serve and sacrifice their own ideas or desires for another person.
  • Some weaknesses of this style are that they may become passive-aggressive and develop a deep sense of needing to be liked.
  • A helpful question to ask yourself or someone you know with this conflict style would be, "how is my response functioning for me and influencing how I view myself or my self-worth in relation to others?"


  • A strength of this style is that spending time away from the conflict can give a person the chance to calm down and process the conflict.
  • A weakness of this style is that it can lead a person to avoid the problem which can create a pattern of avoiding problems.
  • A helpful question to ask would be, "how can I honor both my need for space and the other person's need in working towards resolving this conflict?"


  • This conflict style's strengths are that people are often good listeners and prioritize reconciling the conflict.
  • Some weaknesses are that these people tend to seek respect over truth and often compromise their own desires.
  • A helpful question to ask is, "how does this person's response to me affect how I view myself?"


  • This conflict style's strengths are that people often clear up issues quickly, and they use their energy wisely when communicating.
  • Some weaknesses are that they can have a success-driven attitude and may misunderstand other people's motives or intentions.
  • One helpful question to ask is, "what is my motive behind resolving this conflict, and how can I honor the other person in the reconciliation process?"

All conflict styles have strengths and weaknesses and function differently in conflict.

Not only is it helpful to have some understanding of how people relate in conflict, but also it is helpful to slow down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself the types of questions listed. Asking yourself or others you lead questions like these will help you develop your awareness of your conflict styles and why you may be responding in such a way. And developing your awareness of how and why you respond in conflict will help you identify areas where you can strive to grow and become a more effective communicator.

Learn more about conflict styles using Relationship IQ's Say What? Connecting through Communication & Conflict module.