Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is the process of resolving a dispute or a conflict by meeting at least some of each side’s needs and addressing their interests. Conflict resolution sometimes requires both a power-based and an interest-based approach, such as the simultaneous pursuit of litigation (the use of legal power) and negotiation (attempts to reconcile each party’s interests). There are a number of powerful strategies for conflict resolution.

Knowing how to manage and resolve conflict is essential for having a productive work life, and it is important for community and family life as well. Dispute resolution, to use another common term, is a relatively new field, emerging after World War II. Scholars from the Program on Negotiation were leaders in establishing the field.

Strategies include maintaining open lines of communication, asking other parties to mediate, and keeping sight of your underlying interests. In addition, negotiators can try to resolve conflict by creating value out of conflict, in which you try to capitalize on shared interests, explore differences in preferences, priorities, and resources, capitalize on differences in forecasts and risk preferences, and address potential implementation problems up front.

These skills are useful in crisis negotiation situations and in handling cultural differences in negotiations, and can be invaluable when dealing with difficult people, helping you to “build a golden bridge” and listen to learn, in which you acknowledge the other person’s points before asking him or her to acknowledge yours.

Articles offer numerous examples of dispute resolution and explore various aspects of it, including international dispute resolution, how it can be useful in your personal life, skills needed to achieve it, and training that hones those skills.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.

How to Resolve Cultural Conflict: Overcoming Cultural Barriers at the Negotiation Table

Katie Shonk   •  08/31/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

After recently losing an important deal in India, a business negotiator learned that her counterpart felt as if she had been rushing through the talks. The business negotiator thought she was being efficient with their time. How can she improve her cross-cultural negotiation skills?

Research shows that dealmaking across cultures tends to lead to worse outcomes … Read More 

Conflict and Negotiation Case Study: Long-Term Business Partnerships and Negotiated Agreements

PON Staff   •  08/17/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

To protect the future interests of their organization, negotiators sometimes must accept fewer benefits or absorb greater burdens in the short run to maximize the value to all relevant parties – including future employees and shareholders – over time.

Suppose that the operations VPs of two subsidiaries of an energy company are preparing to negotiate the … Read More 

Arbitration vs Mediation and the Conflict Resolution Process in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

PON Staff   •  08/05/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Arbitration, mediation, and the dispute resolution process – how negotiators can effectively use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) conflict management and conflict resolution techniques to resolve disputes, repair relationships, and find opportunities for value creation at the bargaining table.

It’s often the case that when two people or organizations try to resolve a dispute by determining who … Read More 

Top Ten Conflict Resolution Posts

Keith Lutz   •  07/29/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Here is a list of our top ten most popular conflict resolution articles.

1. A Cross Cultural Negotiation Example: How to Overcome Cultural Barriers

Understanding cultural norms, while avoiding stereotyping, is a key negotiation skill for all international negotiators. Negotiation research reveals that dealmaking across cultures tends to result in worse negotiated agreements than those where … Read More 

Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics: Damage Control in Conflict Resolution

PON Staff   •  07/20/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Framing in negotiation, and the negotiating skills and negotiation tactics that go behind effective bargaining, can help not only achieve a negotiator’s goals at the bargaining table, but also can anticipate the fallout or kickback received from parties away from the negotiation table. President Obama’s tax-cut negotiations with Senate Republicans in late 2010 offer cautionary … Read More 

Conflict Management Training and Negotiation Research: How Nervous Energy Affects Negotiation Scenarios and Attempts at Conflict Resolution

Katie Shonk   •  07/13/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Negotiation is often characterized as a physiologically arousing event marked by pounding hearts, queasy stomachs, and flushed faces. We might assume that heightened physiological arousal would mar our negotiation performance, but this is only true for some, researchers Ashley D. Brown and Jared R. Curhan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found in a new … Read More 

Case Study of Conflict Management and Negotiation: The Challenges of Negotiating Online

PON Staff   •  07/08/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Negotiation research suggests that e-mail often poses more problems than solutions when it comes to relationships, information exchange, and outcomes. Here is a case study of conflict management and negotiation about the challenges of building rapport with your counterpart when negotiating online.

First, establishing social rapport via e-mail can be challenging. The lack of nonverbal cues … Read More 

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