Introducing the Dual Concern Model

The dual concern model is a model, one of many that exist, that is used to analyze reactions to conflict. I have mentioned this model in passing before. The dual concern model allows a person to gauge their own behaviors as well as the reactions of their counterparts on the other side of the conflict. It is simple tool, adequate only for conflicts with two sides. This is adequate for most people; multi-party conflict is rare among individuals.

The dual concern model describes 5 conflict behaviors (and there are multiple descriptors for each of these behaviors): avoid, contend, yield, problem solve, and compromise. Avoid means just want it says, complete avoidance of any and all conflict, regardless of consequence. Contend means you are willing to use aggression to deal with conflict. Yield means giving in because you can neither see any upside to involving yourself in conflict nor do you see any downside to giving the other party what they seek. Problem solve means to work with the other party to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. In graduate school was told that the technical definition of compromise is a mutually disagreeable solution.

One of  my favorite descriptions of the model assigns a cutesy animal symbol to describe the behaviors:

Avoid = Turtle

Contend = Shark

Yield = Teddy Bear

Problem Solve = Owl

Compromise = Fox

I typically ascribe two purposes to conflict resolution. The first is to avoid turning disagreement into conflict where and when possible. Second, to attempt to resolve conflicts with a minimum of damage to the parties involved. The dual concern model can be used meet these two purposes. The dual concern model is a tool I will often reference. I will write about its  many purposes as I proceed. I submit that learning about this tool will be useful to most people with any concerns about conflict. There is a pdf with an example of this model on the Resources page.

Published by Leo

Leo Barrera Writer & Photographer with expertise in negotiation, conflict resolution, social capital, and leadership. I do child support enforcement for a living, but it is not fun.

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