Collaborating is an attempt for both people to work things out. The assertive, yet cooperative, collaborator takes care of his/her needs as well as the needs of others without compromising, or giving something up. The collaborator says, "Let's both keep discussing this until we can reach consensus, then we'll both 'win'," and tries to understand where the other person is coming from in order to arrive at a win-win situation. Because neither party loses anything, collaboration is the best way to manage conflict but it is also the most time-consuming method.
Compromising means each person gives or loses something in an attempt to create a win-win situation by trying to take care of his/her needs as well as the needs of others. The compromiser attempts to cooperate, but not at his/her personal expense. The compromiser says, "let's see if we can work this out."
Accommodating means someone gives in to the conflict, and sacrifices personal needs to satisfy others. This conflict-handling mode usually indicates a person who is relatively unassertive but very cooperative - a person who hopes for "peace at all costs."
Competing involves an assertive, and often uncooperative, person who will push to get what he or she wants. The competitor takes care of his/her needs first, caring little for the needs of others and says, "me first at all costs."
Avoiding means that at least one person opts out of the situation leaving their needs unmet, or their thoughts unshared. This conflict-handling mode usually indicates the person who is avoiding is less inclined to be assertive and/or cooperative.