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.

Tough Topics in Negotiation: Negotiating a Non-Compete Agreement with Employers

PON Staff   •  01/12/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

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 

The Fiscal Cliff and the Debt Ceiling: Program on Negotiation Chair Robert Mnookin Discusses Recent and Future Negotiations Between Congressional Republicans and the White House

Keith Lutz   •  01/08/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

What methodology was driving the posturing and statements behind congressional Republicans and the Obama administration’s negotiations regarding the debt ceiling and how both sides came together to avoid going off of the “fiscal cliff.” … Read More 

Why Is Sincerity Important? How to Avoid Deception in Negotiation

PON Staff   •  12/29/2015   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Why is sincerity important at the bargaining table and how do negotiators avoid deception in negotiations? Your counterpart may not realize that her behavior is unethical, and even when she does, she may justify her behavior as being ethical in this particular case.

What unethical behavior?

Ethical dilemmas often are more obvious to passive observers than to … Read More 

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

PON Staff   •  12/24/2015   •  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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