Face Negotiation Theory, Relational Dialectics, Conflict Management Styles

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William James once said, “Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” Mediation is a process that can help parties resolve conflict. Even though mediators are not supposed to change the attitudes of parties they can show them the situation in a different light, thus causing the parties’ attitudes to change and the conflict to be resolved. Mediators need to understand there is a lot that goes into conflict and by understanding these concepts and theories they can mediate the dispute in a more thorough and proper way. Some parties might be trying to save face and that is why they are not being honest or telling the truth. Parties could be dealing with the tensions of connectedness and separateness, certainty and uncertainty, or even openness and closedness. The parties’ conflict styles could be avoiding, accommodating, competing, collaborating or compromising. It is important for mediators to be aware of all these different concepts and theories that can affect mediation. Through a thorough examination of conflict management styles, Face Negotiation Theory, and Relational Dialectics Theory it will be shown how important these theories and concepts are to effective mediation.

Conflict Management Styles

Thomas, K.W. and R.H. Kilmann have identified five conflict management styles: avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, competing and compromising. “Accommodating is when you cooperate to a high-degree. It may be at your own expense and actually work against your own goals, objectives, and desired outcomes” (, p. 1). However, if you just want the conflict to be resolved this might be the correct app...

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University of Kentucky. "Relational Dialectics - Interpersonal Communication Context." Spring 2001 Theory Workbook, 14 Feb. 2001. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .
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