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.

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 More 

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 … Read More 

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 More 

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 More 

William Ury interviewed on the NBA lockout

PON Staff   •  12/16/2011   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

The good news is the lockout is over and the NBA will be back in business on Christmas Day.

The bad news is that as a result of the contract dispute, fans across America have been disappointed and millions of dollars have been lost.  Ticket takers, security guards, bars, restaurants and parking lots near the arenas … Read More 

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