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.

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Conflict-Solving Strategies: The Value of Taking a Break

Katie Shonk   •  04/08/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

conflict solving strategies

Business negotiators coping with deeply entrenched conflict often feel defeated and hopeless when conflict-solving strategies fail. However, research from the world of international conflict suggests that taking repeated breaks from conflict can improve the odds of reaching agreement down the road. The research and resulting negotiation strategies may offer new hope to business negotiators. … Learn More About This Program

Conflict Resolution Scenarios: Negotiating Values

Katie Shonk   •  02/18/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

conflict resolution scenarios

The most heated types of conflict in organizations and in our personal lives often concern our core values, such as our personal moral standards, our religious and political beliefs, and our family’s welfare. Such values conflicts can escalate and intervening quickly in cases of conflict is essential. The following three conflict resolution scenarios can help … Read Conflict Resolution Scenarios: Negotiating Values

Facing controversy? Don’t forget to negotiate

PON Staff   •  11/30/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Looking back, it’s almost hard to imagine, but when then–San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting down for pregame performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” no one noticed. He’d sat through two national anthems during the 2016 preseason before reporters asked him about it. Citing racial oppression and police brutality, Kaepernick explained that he planned … Read Facing controversy? Don’t forget to negotiate

Successes & Messes: Courtroom drama: An unscripted dispute over to Kill a Mockingbird adaptation

PON Staff   •  06/30/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

This spring, the estate of Harper Lee, the deceased author of the classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, sued the producers of a Broadway stage adaptation of the novel for deviating too much from its character and plot. The story, as reported in the New York Times, highlights the value of exploring every viable … Learn More About This Program

Family Business Conflict Resolution and Negotiation

Katie Shonk   •  05/14/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Family Business Conflict Resolution

Business transactions between family members and friends can be difficult. Close ties are generally founded on the expectation that we’ll look out for each other’s welfare and not “keep score.” In business relationships, by contrast, we expect to be compensated based on how much effort, time, and money we expend. We’re likely to experience a … Learn More About This Program

Negotiation research you can use: “Twinning” at negotiation: Using similarities to measure our differences

PON Staff   •  04/30/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution


We might hope that when we adopt negotiation best practices—such as spending lots of time preparing and asking questions at the table—we would achieve consistently strong results in our negotiations. Yet as most of us have experienced, our outcomes and personal satisfaction can vary a great deal from one negotiation to the next. Why?

First, individual … Learn More About This Program

Conflict Negotiation Strategies for Business Negotiators

Katie Shonk   •  02/26/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

conflict negotiation strategies

When closing a deal, new business partners are typically optimistic about the path ahead. But somewhere down the line, conflict is almost inevitable. One party may miss a deadline. The two sides may interpret contract terms differently. Changing economic conditions may make it difficult for one side to uphold its end of the deal.

When a … Learn More About This Program

Negotiation Update: In Senate health care defeat, it’s déjà vu all over again

PON Staff   •  09/30/2017   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

In negotiation, learning from past mistakes is a critical skill. In our July issue, we detailed errors that Republicans made in their initial attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the House of Representatives. Although the House narrowly passed its American Health Care Act (AHCA) in May, Senate Republicans repeated many of … Learn More About This Program

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