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.

See full description

Why your lawyer could be wrong about apologies

PON Staff   •  12/06/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

If you’ve ever had a minor car accident in which neither you nor the other driver was obviously at fault, familiar advice may have run through your head as you got out of your car: Don’t say you’re sorry! Don’t say you’re sorry!
Most of us have been cautioned in such contexts that an apology can … Read More 

Avoid conflict and broken trust

PON Staff   •  11/28/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

While negotiations are inherently risky, there are proven ways to reduce risk and improve your odds of success. To do so, you must focus on the very basis of your relationship with the other party: trust.

Think about a time when you lost trust in a fellow negotiator. Did you try to renegotiate the terms of … Read More 

PON Film Series presents “The Interrupters”

PON Staff   •  11/15/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Negotiation and Nonviolent Action, PON Film Series, Student Events

The PON Film Series presents
“The Interrupters”
followed by a post-screening discussion with
William Ury, co-author of Getting to YES &
Gary Slutkin, Executive Director of Chicago’s Ceasefire
Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School Campus
The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago … Read More 

Gene Sharp event featured on HLS website

PON Staff   •  11/04/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, PON Film Series

A review focusing on the PON film screening of “How to Start a Revolution,” a documentary following the life and work of Gene Sharp, was recently published on Harvard Law School’s website.

The event featured a post-screening panel discussion with Sharp,  founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a nonprofit institute that focuses on the … Read More 

World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements

PON Staff   •  11/02/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Events, Negotiation and Nonviolent Action, PON Film Series, Student Events

“World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements”
A film screening & discussion with innovative teacher John Hunter and filmmaker Chris Farina.

Date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Time: 7:15 PM

Location: Langdell North, Harvard Law School Campus

For over thirty years, a public school teacher in Virginia has been teaching his students the work of peace through a remarkable exercise … Read More 

The Art of Negotiation

PON Staff   •  10/18/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Daily, Events, Student Events, Students

The Art of Negotiation

Moved to Pound Hall 101 on the HLS Campus
October 18, 2011
7:30 pm

Free and open to the public

Please join world-renowned artist Romero Britto as he unveils a series of paintings produced in collaboration with Professor Daniel Shapiro and Harvard College students.   Each painting illustrates a key aspect to address the emotional dimension of … Read More 

Avoid judicial bias with negotiation

PON Staff   •  10/18/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Daily

Adapted from “Blind Justice? Think Twice Before Going to Court,” by Chris Guthrie (professor, Vanderbilt University Law School), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, April 2007.

Planning to resolve a personal or business dispute in court? Consider that judges don’t make decisions based on a thorough accounting of all the relevant and available information.  Instead, like … Read More 

Involving mediators in settlement talks

PON Staff   •  08/09/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Daily

Adapted from “The Mediator as Team Adviser,” by Stephen B. Goldberg (professor, Northwestern University), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, May 2006.

When faced with a trial, a corporation sometimes engages one law firm to represent it in court and a second law firm to explore settlement possibilities. According to conventional wisdom, the second law firm … Read More 

Expect Brinkmanship in the Debt Ceiling Negotiations?

PON Staff   •  07/15/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Negotiations over raising the debt ceiling limit for the United States remain contentious, leading some to speculate that a deal will not be reached until the 11th hour, if at all. Professor Robert Mnookin, chair of the Program on Negotiation’s Executive Committee, noted in a recent ABC News article that the negotiations resemble a … Read More 

To Negotiate or Not? That Is the Sometimes Agonizing Question

PON Staff   •  07/07/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Daily

Tufts Magazine: Negotiating Life

By Jeswald Salacuse (Henry J. Braker Professor of Law, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University)

When involved in conflict, it is often difficult to decide whether or not to negotiate with an adversary. In this article, Professor Salacuse discusses five questions that can help you decide when negotiating is in … Read More 

Would you like us to inform you when new posts become available?

We hate spam as much as you do. You have our promise not to sell or share your email address — ever! Please read our privacy policy.