Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans resolve an interpersonal conflict with their supervisors and how cultural factors explain the differences in conflict management styles. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted involving 275 employees from China, Japan and South Korea. A hierarchical regression analysis and A-matrix hypothesis test were used to analyze the data. Findings – Koreans, compared with the Chinese and Japanese, were more likely to use a compromise style. In addition, the Japanese, compared with the Chinese and Koreans, were less likely to dominate and were more likely to oblige their supervisors. The country differences in obliging and dominating styles were partially explained by goal emphasis (self vs collective) and concern for the self, respectively. Research limitations/implications – While limited to recalling specific incidents and self-reported responses, there is evidence that East Asians differ from each other in resolving their interpersonal conflicts with supervisors. Future research needs to examine East Asian differences in resolving an interpersonal conflict with other targets such as peers and subordinates and using other kinds of conflict management styles such as mediation and arbitration. Originality/value – This is one of few studies that have examined East Asian differences in conflict management styles.