Those who compete are assertive and uncooperative and willing to pursue one’s own concerns at another person’s expense. Using this style works when you don’t care about the relationship but the outcome is important, such as when competing with another company for a new client. Below is a breakdown of the pros and cons, some feedback and how to use it successfully.

Benefits of Competing 

  • Asserting Your Position: Allows you to stand up for your ideas and interests while making sure that they are taken seriously. 
  • Possibility of Quick Victory: Allows you to make a quick recommendation and possibly press for a quick decision if you have enough power to be victorious. 
  • Self-Defense: Allows you to protect your interests and standpoints from attack. 
  • Testing Assumptions: Allows you to debate to expose and test your own and others’ assumptions and views (Thomas 13). 

Costs of Competing

  • Strained Work Relationships: The loser of the conflict may feel resentful or exploited.
  • Suboptimal Decisions: Rapid resolution can lead to possible win-win solutions being overlooked. Also, information is not exchanged freely in the Competing mode. 
  • Decreased Initiative and Motivation: When decisions are imposed, other individuals are less committed to them and show less initiative and motivation. 
  • Possible Escalation and Deadlock: It is possible there might be a temptation to use more extreme and provocative tactics if initial tactics fail. Can lead to negotiation deadlock (Thomas 14). 

Related Feedback and Tips for When and How to Use The TKI Competing Mode Competing has a strong effect and it is best when used sparingly. While it may be necessary and useful in quite a few situations it also has the side effect of potentially imposing a significant cost on relationships and motivations and in it’s escalated form it can be quite destructive. Many people are quite sensitive to competing behavior and even a semi frequent use of this conflict management style can lead them to form negative opinions. According to Thomas, utilizing the competing mode is most appropriate in conflicts over very important issues when collaborating fails or is simply not feasible and an assertive approach is required. There are times when you simply know that you are right. You may simply see an issue more clearly than others at times and when this issue is critical to the organization’s (or individual’s) welfare, it may be best if you argue your position as persuasively as possible. Other times a situation may require you to make an unpopular action, in which case you may need to use firmness to impose these decisions. Some examples of this may be enforcing budget cutbacks and enacting disciplinary actions or ending an individual’s employment. In some situations, such as in emergency situations, quick and decisive decisions need to be made and so having an individual with expertise or authority take control may be the best course of action. Other situations may include reacting when you are being attacked, stepping in to provide direction when consensus fails, or help move things along when people in a group are being too considerate, stalling progress when individuals accommodate one another purely out of politeness (Thomas 16-17). 

What Does Successful Competing Entail – Fight Fairly When competing it is helpful to work on specific behavioral skills in order to maximize the positive outcome and minimize the negative factors of utilizing this TKI conflict handling mode. According to the writing of Thomas, working on being more persuasive is a great focus when competing as, when successful, it leads people to commit to your position based on it’s merit as opposed to simply complying to it because of force. By clearly explaining your intentions, working to appeal to shared concerns, and focusing on being specific and credible during your communication can lead to a much improved outcome while minimizing negative backlash. By avoiding exaggerations and sticking to the evidence, a positive overall outcome is much more likely (Thomas 17-18). Thomas states that it is also important to work on making sure that you fight fairly. In the midst of a discussion it may be tempting to strengthen your position of exaggeration, which should be avoided as it is likely to lessen your credibility now and on future issues. It can also be tempting to bring up conflict issues other than the one at hand, and this too should be avoided as it can imbue old emotional conflicts into the discussion (Thomas 18). Also, work on being respectful; avoid letting an unwillingness to wait lead to the inclusion of toxic and degrading behavior. You can also work on softening up your language, especially if you have a tendency to utilize demeaning language. Finally, work on switching to using cautions instead of threats. Threats should be usually used as a last resort and with great care as they tend to do a great deal of damage to any standing goodwill and promote defiance, counter-threats, and retaliation. Thomas recommends that instead of utilizing threats, which is promising to provide punishment if another person does not comply with your wishes, work on utilizing warnings. As a striking contrast to threat, a warning illustrates what you will have to do if an individual does not do what you advise. In general warnings have a much different feel than threats and come off as more judicious and less capricious. Also, because they tend to provide an explanation of why your actions would be necessary, they tend to come off as more tenable than threats (Thomas 19).