Conflict Management Skills

Business Relationship Management

Baxter Thompson Ltd, Jon Baxter

This post is an aide-memoire for Business Relationship Managers to help manage conflict with Business stakeholders . It is part of a series of posts on how to influence others.

Now we’re comfortable with the crucial selling skills needed for influence, but what if our interactions don’t go as planned? There are five strategies to dealing with conflict, each of which have merit - this can vary depending on the context in a given situation. Your preference can be determined by taking the test in the recommended reading below. Adjusting your style can help increase influence.


When the other party is perceived as dangerous or too dangerous, the topic petty or you have not done sufficient preparation; then postponing the discussion or sidestepping is an approach. However the issue remains unresolved.


If the outcome of the conflict is of low value to you and / or you value the relationship highly then giving in to the other person’s requests in preference to yours is an approach. This should be recognised by the other party and can be used to reciprocate a concession from them at a later date.


Where both parties are flexible, have equal bargaining power and speed is important, then trading concessions over both party’s issues is an approach. In this case, you win some and you lose some.


Where the outcome of a conflict requires one winner and the relationship / topic is of low importance then winning is an approach. Expending effort on this too often predicates other people to adopt the same style when less exhausting approaches could garner better outcomes.


Collaboration requires effort from both parties. It also requires trust and therefore a relationship.  The starting point is having a shared problem where information is traded instead of concessions. The outcome is mutually beneficial. This requires the most effort, communication, creative problem solving skills and identification of alternatives. It may not be the quickest approach but builds long-term relationships. 

Recommended reading is “Dealing with Conflict Instrument” by Alexander Hiam.

How Baxter Thompson Associates can help

We help IT understand the opportunity with business partners through our Reconnaissance for IT framework and can help implement a business relationship management capability to ensure that the Value in IT is delivered. We also provide training - the BRMP(R) and the CBRM(R) courses in addition to coaching and Interim Management.


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