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 special free report – The New Conflict Management – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.
Cooperative negotiators know that more value can be had at the bargaining table if they take an integrative bargaining approach to negotiations. Read here to find out how much value negotiators can create by cooperating with counterparts. … Read More
Every day diplomacy, such as resolving conflicts between family members, can inform negotiation strategies and negotiation techniques employed at the bargaining table. In this article, Bruce Feiler’s New York Times’ article “Lessons in Life Diplomacy” is examined from the perspective of broader dispute resolution and conflict management strategies. … Read More
When disputes arise between international negotiators, sometimes a simple gesture of reciprocity can turn a boiling conflict into an amicable resolution. In this article the Program on Negotiation explores how a “simple handshake” between the leaders of Japan and the People’s Republic of China helped ease long-held tensions between the two countries. … Read More
The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is marked by lofty ideals like equal rights, peace, and justice. That’s why the news that King’s three surviving children are locked in a “power struggle,” in the words of the Los Angeles Times, that has boiled over into two lawsuits and the need for conflict resolution concerning … Read More
In December 2010, President Barack Obama engaged in a negotiation showdown with congressional Republicans over the George W. Bush–era tax cuts, which were
due to expire at the end of 2010. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama had promised that, if elected, he would allow the tax cuts for Americans earning more than
$250,000 to expire. But … Read More
Medical-malpractice litigation can be a lengthy, expensive, and contentious process.
Lawyers on both sides might spend months or years conducting discovery and deposing
witnesses. As for settlement negotiations, they tend to occur late in the process and are often treated as a perfunctory step before a trial. … Read More
When it comes to conflict resolution, surprisingly useful nuggets of advice come from the realm of international conflict. Take the Camp David Accords of 1978, as described minute-by-minute by Lawrence Wright in his new book, Thirteen Days in September. U.S. President Jimmy Carter made history by negotiating a peaceful end to the conflict between Israel … Read More
Employers sometimes ask potential employees to agree not to work for their competitors in the future. Don’t assume such requests are nonnegotiable. In the fall of 2010, journalist Christopher Flores was looking for a job in Chicago. As he recounts in a February article in the Chicago Reader, he came across listings for staff writer … Read More
Business negotiators often complain that although they try to focus on creating value, they run into far too many people on the other side of the table who don’t believe in value creation. Often, they focus exclusively on trying to claim as much as possible for themselves. How should you handle these negotiations? … Read More
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Understanding how to arrange the meeting space is a key aspect of preparing for negotiation. In this video, Professor Guhan Subramanian discusses a real world example of how seating arrangements can influence a negotiator’s success. This discussion was held at the 3 day executive education workshop for senior executives at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Guhan Subramanian is the Professor of Law and Business at the Harvard Law School and Professor of Business Law at the Harvard Business School.