Understand the people at the Corporate World!


When you join an office, you meet many kinds of people. These people of the corporate world can be divided into five categories (based on Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann’s model of Conflict Resolution) – Competitors, Avoiders, Compromisers, Accommodators, Collaborators. Thomas-Kilmann gave the conflict resolution model; I feel that their concept is true even when we are trying to understand or improve interpersonal relationships. Let me explain these five possible interaction styles, using a very simple example- that of my friend Madhu and a person selling her “favourite” sari for `5000. Now I am going to give you five possibilities of interaction between the shop keeper and Madhu.

Situation 1: Madhu as a Competitor: I want this sari for `3000 and will not give a penny more. The shopkeeper had bought the sari for `2500, he could have earned more money out of it but since he doesn’t know how to assert himself, he gives in.

Situation 2: Madhu as an Avoider: I want this sari for `3000. The shopkeeper says no and Madhu leaves the shop. In the process, neither the shopkeeper nor Madhu gain anything.

Situation 3: Madhu as a Compromiser: I want this sari for `3000. The shopkeeper insists on `5000, so Madhu says let’s do one thing, I will bear a loss of `1000, and you also bear a loss of `1000 and let us settle for `4000.

Situation 4: Madhu as an Accommodator: I want this sari for `3000. The shopkeeper insists on `5000, so Madhu says OK and buys the sari for `5000.

Situation 5: Madhu as a Collaborator: I want this sari for `3000. The shopkeeper insists on `5000, so Madhu says look I know you bought this sari for `2500. You can make a good profit of `1000 if you give it to me for `3500. It is a gain for me as well as you. Think about it. The shopkeeper sees logic in it and gives the sari for `3500.

Let us understand these five broad categories in which Madhu’s interaction can be interpreted and in the coming section, we will also discover what category we belong to.

Interpersonal Style Importance of Goals Importance of People Outcome of Interactions
Competitors High Low I win- You lose
Avoiders Low Low I lose- You lose
Compromisers Medium Medium I win some- You win some
Accommodators Low High I lose- You win
Collaborators High High I win- You win

 What is My Dominant Interpersonal Style?

Instructions: Give a rating to each of the 15 statements on a scale of 1 – 5 on the basis of how you like to interact with people. Please remember that your answers are not what you want to be but what you actually are.



2=Very Often


4= Not Very Often

5= Rarely

  1. ____ I always make sure that I boast about my position at my workplace.
  2. ____ I believe that negotiating and clearly communicating are the requisites for consensus.
  3. ____ I always strive to meet other people’s expectations.
  4. ____ I research in detail about matters to find reasonable solutions that everyone agrees with.
  5. ____ I can support my point strongly without fearing anyone.
  6. ____ I keep away from seeking attention and generally keep my opinions to myself.
  7. ____ If I think about a solution, I implement it.
  8. ____ I can bend a little and cooperate when interacting with people.
  9. ____ I can do whatever it takes to make people like me.
  10. ____ I avoid discussing any problems with others and tend to keep quiet.
  11. ____ I make an attempt to fulfil the wishes of everyone that I know.
  12. ____ I try to find solutions that make everyone happy including me.
  13. ____ I often interrupt people who are fighting and try to act as a mediator.
  14. ____ I am open to suggestions and easily agree with them.
  15. ____ I keep my disagreement to myself so that other people do not get hurt.

How to Score: All the 15 statements belong to one of the five categories of interpersonal behavior. Adjacent to the style are written the statement numbers. You must have to write the rating that you gave to each statement and sum up the scores row-wise.

Style Total
Competitor i. ____ v. ___ vii. ___ ______
Avoider vi.____ x. ____ xv._____ ______
Compromiser ii. ____ viii.___ xiii.____ ______
Accommodator iii. ___ xi. ___ xiv.____ ______
Collaborator iv.____ ix. ___ xii.____ ______

Results: Your lowest score is your most dominant style ____________________________

You usually back up (second lowest score) with the second dominant style ________________________ __



To accurately evaluate your corporate or workplace culture, you should consider the following aspects of your workplace:

Figure 2.1: Aspects of Workplace

  • Communication: every workplace has a pattern of working. There is a protocol to communicate. Find that pattern and protocol. Ask people around and observe how messages are conveyed. The setting could be formal or informal; thus the messages could be conveyed in written or in person (verbally). Are there any memos, reporting system etc. You must find out about all these things when settling down in a new place of work.
  • Chain of Command: Hierarchy tells you the position of your boss, your subordinates and other internal customers that you will need to deal with on a daily basis. You will need to know how lenient or rigid employees are in following protocol.
  • Collaboration: If there is a culture of collaboration in an organisation, then it is very difficult to survive there as a lone ranger. Understand how ideas are shared, messages are communicated and conflicts are resolved in teams. What level of team work is expected of you is something that you must be aware of.
  • Headship: A very important cue understanding how your organisation works is to find out how your boss leads his team. What is his way of giving feedback, how he resolves individual and team issues and what is his style?
  • Appearance: Nowadays, most organisations expect the employees to dress formally. Find out if your organisation does the same. See how your colleagues dress. If you feel the need, discuss how you should dress with a trusted colleague. Read the code of conduct if your organisation has one; it will give you a fair idea on what the policies and expectations of the company are.
  • Work area: Your workstation is the place where you will spend most of your time. You must know if you can bring your personal pictures, plants and pots etc or not. Can you eat lunch at your workstation or do you need to go to the cafeteria to have lunch?
  • Friendships @ work: Knowing how close-knit your office family will help you establish strong relationships at workplace. If there are casual lunches and dinners, picnics and get-togethers, colleagues sharing personal information with each other, then you must follow suit.

Every workplace has a culture, to increase your Civility Quotient; you need to understand the above-mentioned aspects of your organisation. If you act in tandem with the organisation, you have a chance of becoming Mr. Or Ms. Popular very soon!

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