Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is a conflict style inventory, which is a tool developed to measure an individual's response to conflict situations.


A number of conflict style inventories have been in active use since the 1960s. Most of them are based on the managerial grid developed by Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton in their Managerial Grid Model. The Blake and Mouton model uses two axes. "Concern for people" is plotted using the vertical axis and "Concern for task" along the horizontal axis. Each axis has a numerical scale of 1 to 9. These axes interact so as to diagram five different styles of management. This grid posits the interaction of task with relationship and shows that according to how people value these, there are five basic ways of interacting with others.

In 1974, Kenneth W.Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann introduced their Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (Tuxedo NY: Xicom, 1974). The TKI, as it is also known, popularized conflict style inventories and, according to the publisher's website, there are over five million copies published, making it the best known of the commercial conflict style inventories.Fact|date=October 2007


The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode instrument uses two axes (influenced by the Mouton and Blake axes), called "assertiveness" and "cooperativeness", and identifies five different styles of conflict: Forcing, (assertive, uncooperative) Avoiding (unassertive, uncooperative), Accommodating (unassertive, cooperative), Collaborating (assertive, cooperative), and Compromising (intermediate assertiveness and cooperativeness). This is very similar to other psychometric tools, such as DISC assessment, Social styles, and even moreso, a theory of Five Temperaments, all of which use similar scales.

A similar inventory is the "Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory" which is also based on the Mouton-Blake Managerial Grid and identifies five styles of responding to conflict.


The TKI is quick to administer and interpret. It takes about 15 minutes to answer the questions, and an hour or so for interpretation by a trainer. There are some interpretation materials helping users identify appropriate use of the styles and to help them become more comfortable with styles they are less familiar with. The TKI is widely known and is available in English, French, and Spanish versions.


The TKI is a forced choice questionnaire, which some users find frustrating. It assumes that all users have similar cultural background. Some trainers report frustration among users from minority backgrounds or in use outside the United States. Its interpretation materials are not extensive.

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