How to Use the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)?

What is TKI?

The TKI (Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument) measures five “conflict-handling modes,” or ways of dealing with conflict: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. These five modes can be described along two dimensions, assertiveness and cooperativeness. Assertiveness refers to the extent to which one tries to satisfy his or her own concerns, and cooperativeness refers to the extent to which one tries to satisfy the concerns of another person (Thomas & Kilmann, 1974, 2007). Competing is assertive and not cooperative, and accommodating is cooperative and not assertive. Avoiding is neither assertive nor cooperative, while collaborating is both assertive and cooperative. Compromising falls in the middle on both dimensions.

Check out a TKI Sample Report.

How to Understand TKI?

If you need help with interpreting the TKI (Thomas Kilmann) Conflict Mode Instrument to make conflict more productive, this excerpt from the Technical Brief for the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument can help.  

…the conflict-handling modes are listed in a sequence. That sequence is competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating….

…formats provide interpretive information on the uses of each conflict mode as well as questions to consider about possible overuse or underuse of the conflict modes. The online report customizes interpretive content in two ways. First, it presents client results in rank order, from top conflict mode to least-used conflict mode. Second, it provides additional information on typical characteristics and contributions of people who score highest on the client’s top conflict mode.

Because conflict-handling modes are presented in the online report in the client’s rank order, a tiebreaker rule is necessary. The ranking is by percentiles—a comparison of the client’s results with the updated norm group’s—and if two percentiles are tied, the tie is broken using a reverse social desirability sort. For example, avoiding ranks higher than collaborating, since collaborating is the more socially approved behavior. The tiebreaker sort is as follows:

  • Avoiding
  • Accommodating
  • Competing
  • Compromising
  • Collaborating

The online TKI assessment and report  group clients’ percentile scores into three ranges. Percentile scores of 0 to 25 are considered low, percentile scores of 26 to 75 inclusive are considered medium, and percentile scores of 76 to 100 are considered high. The high-medium-low labels are meant to give clients an easy way to understand how their use of conflict modes compares with others’ use of the modes. Note that a client’s top conflict-handling mode may fall in either the high or medium range.

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