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.

Ask A Negotiation Expert: Negotiation Means Sometimes Having To Say You’re Sorry

PON Staff   •  01/31/2021   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

An apology can be an essential means of repairing trust and rebuilding damaged relationships. Yet we don’t always apologize effectively, according to Jeswald Salacuse, a distinguished professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and a faculty member of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. We spoke to Salacuse about … Read More 

Conflict Management: Intervening in Workplace Conflict

PON Staff   •  12/17/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Question: I’m aware of lots of unresolved personnel issues that seem to be festering in my department, such as complaints about someone who is not doing his share of the work, another person whose griping is causing a drop in morale, and two coworkers who can’t seem to get along. I’m comfortable negotiating with customers, … Read More 

Managing Conflicts of Interest

Katie Shonk   •  12/14/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

An agent—whether a real-estate agent, lawyer, literary agent, or financial adviser—can provide the knowledge, experience, connections, and negotiation skills and strategies needed to get you a great deal. But we tend to forget that agents’ and clients’ financial interests are almost never perfectly aligned. A busy real-estate agent may advise you to offer more for … Read More 

Conflict Resolution in the Family

PON Staff   •  12/14/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

In Lessons in Domestic Diplomacy, the New York Times’ Bruce Feiler, drawing on family conflict resolution negotiation examples in his past, offers a case study of conflict management by focusing on disputes in the home, asking, “how do we break out of negative patterns of conduct and proactively approach problems encountered in our everyday lives?” … Read More 

Conflict Management and Negotiation: Personality and Individual Differences That Matter

PON Staff   •  12/10/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Although Elfenbein and her colleagues did find that negotiators performed at a similar level from one negotiation to the next, to their surprise, these scores were only minimally related to specific personality traits. And traits that are basically unchangeable, such as gender, ethnic background, and physical attractiveness, were not closely connected to people’s scores.

A small … Read More 

Fostering Constructive Conflict in Team Negotiation

PON Staff   •  12/03/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Conflict can, indeed, be an asset in team negotiation and decision- making, but only if it’s managed constructively.

Even if you appreciate conflict, most people are more inclined to want to get along well with others. In groups and team negotiation, that motivation can hold us back from expressing viewpoints that diverge from those of the … Read More 

In Conflict Resolution, President Carter Turned Flaws Into Virtues

Katie Shonk   •  12/03/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

When it comes to conflict resolution, surprisingly useful nuggets of advice come from the realm of international conflict. Take the Camp David Accords of 1978, as described minute-by-minute by Lawrence Wright in his new book, Thirteen Days in September. U.S. President Jimmy Carter made history by negotiating a peaceful end to the conflict between Israel … Read More