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.

Negotiation Research You Can Use: Hugging it Out

PON Staff   •  11/08/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Males and females react to one-on-one conflict differently, research suggests, and perhaps from an early age. Irreconcilable conflicts are more likely to disintegrate the activities and social groups of girls than those of boys, studies have found. Male college roommates were less likely than females to become embroiled in conflicts that led them to change … Read More 

What is the Winner’s Curse?

Katie Shonk   •  11/07/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Imagine that while exploring an outdoor bazaar in a foreign country, you see a beautiful rug that would look perfect in your home. While you’ve purchased a rug or two in your life, you’re far from an expert. Thinking on your feet, you guess that the rug is worth about $5,000. You decide to make … Read More 

Moving beyond “us versus them”

PON Staff   •  08/05/2016   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Over the years, what many believe to be Jesus’s tomb in Jerusalem’s Old City has been the site of tensions that have at times escalated into violence. Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic communities guard the shrine surrounding the tomb, which they consider the holiest site in … Read More 

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