Case Studies / Activities


The Thomas-Kilmann ‘Conflict Mode Instrument’ (abbreviated to TKI) provides a psychometric measure of a person’s way of dealing with conflict. Five conflict-handling modes are differentiated – Competing; Collaborating; Compromising; Accommodating and Avoiding – and are positioned along two dimensions or axes: (1) Assertiveness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy his/her own concerns, and (2) Cooperativeness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the other person's concerns. The diagram below illustrates where each mode sits on the axes:


The authors of TKI suggest that whilst a person may have a leaning towards one mode, different modes can be drawn upon dependent on the situation. A core issue is self-awareness and knowing how you tend to react, which can enable drawing on strategies to adopt a different mode as the situation demands.

You can find out more about TKI via Ralph Kilmann’s website – Kilmann Diagnostics:  

and the dedicated web pages celebrating TKI’s 40th Anniversary at:  See in particular the Blog topics and Videos.

NB: Access to the TKI assessment is only available at a charge. You do not need to purchase the TKI assessment to undertake the activity below.

  • Firstly, consider the different modes of the TKI. Then think about situations where there has been some level of conflict between you and another person or other people. By conflict we are referring to situations where there were differences of opinion about actions, goals, behaviour or something of that nature.
  • Can you identify the way that you dealt with conflict (mode) in the situations you have thought about?
  • Was your conflict-handling mode consistent? If not, what do you think underpinned any differences in the way you handled conflict?
  • How do you think an understanding of different conflict-handling modes is relevant to team working?
  • Does an awareness of the different modes help you to think about strategies for managing interpersonal conflict? 
  • If you have the opportunity discuss your thoughts about conflict with fellow students or colleagues.