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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Anchor Trials or Balloons in Conflict Resolution

PON Staff   •  07/12/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

The power of anchors in negotiation has been demonstrated time and again. Sellers who demand more tend to get more. Indeed, the initial asking price is usually the best predictor of the final agreement.

A trio of researchers may have found an important exception to this rule, however; lower starting numbers set by the seller in … Read Anchor Trials or Balloons in Conflict Resolution 

Yemeni Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman to speak at Harvard

PON Staff   •  06/07/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Events, Middle East Negotiation Initiatives, Opportunities for Students, Student Events

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, in partnership with The Center for Public Leadership and the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School

invites the public to an address by

Tawakkol Karman
Nobel Peace Prize Co-recipient, 2011
Yemeni Political Activist and Journalist

When: Thursday, June 7, 2012

Time: 6 p.m.

Where: Institute of Politics Forum, Harvard Kennedy School
Free and open … Learn More About This Program 

Rapport Comes First

PON Staff   •  05/31/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

How is it that mediators – who themselves lack any power to impose a solution – nevertheless often lead bitter disputants to agreement? Substantive expertise helps, as does keen analytic skill.

According to a recent survey by Northwestern University law professor Stephen Goldberg, veteran mediators believe that establishing rapport is more important than employing specific techniques … Read Rapport Comes First 

The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts

PON Staff   •  04/11/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Events, Opportunities for Students, Student Events

“The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts”
Dr. Peter T. Coleman
Director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution
and Professor of Psychology and Education
at Columbia University
When: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time: 12 – 1 p.m.

Where: Wasserstein Hall, Room B10, Harvard Law School Campus
Please bring your lunch. Drinks and desserts provided.
One … Learn More About This Program 

Too Many Parties at the Table? Try a Side Deal

PON Staff   •  04/02/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

When a large number of parties is involved in jointly hammering out a deal or dispute, agreement can be elusive, as illustrated by the failure of recent global climate change negotiations. The difficulty of coordinating a wide range of perspectives and interests often results in delays, disagreement, and impasse.

In the article, “Too Big to Succeed? … Read Too Many Parties at the Table? Try a Side Deal 

PON faculty member Daniel Shapiro takes part in panel discussion reflecting on the World Economic Forum

PON Staff   •  03/26/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Daily, International Negotiation, Middle East Negotiation Initiatives

In a panel discussion on February 3 at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard faculty members shared their reflections on this year’s annual summit of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Panelists included Dr. Daniel Shapiro of the Harvard Negotiation Project, as well as Kennedy School faculty Charles W. Eliot … Learn More About This Program 

When Others are Counting on You

PON Staff   •  02/28/2012   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Unless your official title is “lawyer” or “agent” you probably don’t think of yourself as an agent. But if you’ve ever represented a family member, your boss, your department, or your organization in a negotiation, you’ve served as that party’s agent.

Representing others at the bargaining table creates both opportunities and hazards. In their book, Negotiating … Read When Others are Counting on You 

Is the U.S. Congress good at negotiation?

PON Staff   •  12/23/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

In response to recent power struggles and stand-offs in Congress, most notably House Speaker John Boehner’s dare to the Senate to not return to Washington to negotiate with House Republicans, National Journal interviewed Harvard law professor Robert C. Bordone to get his opinion on Congress’s approach to negotiation.
When asked to give his estimation of Congress’s … Read Is the U.S. Congress good at negotiation? 

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