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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Successes and Messes: From animosity to agreement

PON Staff   •  06/17/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Sometimes in negotiation, your most unlikely counterpart may turn out to be your most promising one. That’s what executive Joel Manby came to realize after becoming CEO of embattled theme-park operator SeaWorld in the spring of 2015.

Stormy seas

For more than two decades, the Humane Society of the United States and other activist groups had condemned … Read More 

The Right Way to Say I’m Sorry

PON Staff   •  06/17/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

On April 6, former Massey Energy CEO Donald Blankenship was sentenced to a year in prison and a $250,000 fine, the maximum punishment allowed, after receiving a misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to flout mine safety rules. In 2010, 29 Massey miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch coal dust explosion in West Virginia, while … Read More 

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

Katie Shonk   •  06/13/2016   •  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 

Negotiating the (seemingly) impossible

PON Staff   •  05/13/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, a leading cancer research and treatment institution, doctors often will advise men who are diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer (and who have certain other characteristics) to follow a course of “active surveillance.” Because such cancers often progress very slowly, the doctors encourage these patients … Read More 

In Acrimonious Disputes, Conflict Management is Key

Katie Shonk   •  04/14/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

In Acrimonious Disputes Conflict Management is Key

Parties to a business dispute often become so focused on beating the other party that they lose sight of their most important goals. Conflict management efforts can be even more intense and seeming insurmountable between estranged romantic partners with a history of acrimony and distrust.

Consider rock star Madonna’s ongoing legal dispute with her ex-husband, film … Read More 

Using Mediation to Resolve International Disputes

PON Staff   •  04/11/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

As businesses increasingly branch out globally, they also face the possibility of broken contracts and strained relationships. Mediation can be an effective means of resolving disputes and getting business partners back on track, but do intercultural differences complicate the process? If so, how can disputants and mediators adjust?

Elizabeth D. Salmon of the University of Maryland … 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

PON Staff   •  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 

Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics: Damage Control in Conflict Resolution

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

negotiating skills

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 

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