The Avoider

Initially, when I received my Thomas-Killmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) score, immediately I was surprised. I did not feel the assessment accurately identified my true method of conflict resolution. Further complicating my results, I knew I had not answered the questions honestly because I did not want to be perceived as harsh, cold, hard – a coconut. I have been described as a coconut in the past. Like a coconut, I have a tough exterior, that takes time and effort to extract the sweetness. Once opened, you will find a genuine, kind, and candid person who wants the best and encourages all to expect the best in themselves.  

As it turned out, “Avoider” was my highest assessment rating. Personally, I knew there was no way on earth did I avoid confrontation, or was I an avoider. I have no problem expressing my thoughts and giving my unsolicited opinion to anyone, strangers included. After going deeper into the results, I realized that the score was accurate at best. It was not an Aha Moment, more like “Eek”! I have always heard that you do not have to participate in every argument or disagreement. However, in a team environment, it is quite the opposite. It is essential to address an issue when it happens.

In regards to my previous teaming blog, SM needed to know that the unprofessional behavior would not be tolerated; therefore, the written notice was issued. I confronted that issue one-on-one immediately. But as a group –no! I avoided bringing the two members together for months. Yes, months! I did not want to deal with the behaviors and attitudes of the GA and SM, believing they were justified in how they acted towards each other. And, I knew I was wrong by not creating a team dynamic from the beginning. Therefore, I avoided attempts to unify the staff member and allowed conflict to continue to fester until “I” was ready to deal with it. As TKI stated, “Avoiders value their time and energy and being prepared, so they exercise prudence and caution and try to avoid getting involved in “messy” or dangerous issues” (p. 6). There will be conflict on a team because no two people are alike. However, conflict is valuable. The value in being able to reframe how conflict is managed is the ability to “keep constructive conflict over issues from degenerating into dysfunctional interpersonal conflict, to encourage…arguments without destroying the ability to work as a team” (Eisenhardt, Kahwajy, and Bourgeois, 1997, p. 2). Unfortunately, my team experienced conflict. However, conflict was valuable in enabling me to see the dysfunction of my current team. The ability to right the ship now will decrease any dysfunction in future teams. Also, it is a reminder that “teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability” (Lencioni 2002).


Eisenhardt, K.M., Kahwajy, J.L., & Bourgeois, L.J. (1997). How management teams can have a good fight. Harvard business review, 75 4, 2-10.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Thomas, K.E., & Kilmann, R.H. (2007). Thomas – Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument Profile and Report [Measurement Instrument]. Retrieved  from

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