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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Successes & Messes: Negotiating cracks in coalitions

PON Staff   •  04/30/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Last month, we analyzed the array of negotiating strategies—including carrots, concessions, and old-fashioned arm-twisting—that Nancy Pelosi used to secure enough Democratic votes to be elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. But Pelosi had only brief control of the speaker’s gavel before she faced a significant test of her ability to keep her coalition united. A caucus … Read More 

Conflict Resolution Success Stories: A Surprising Tale from Congress

Katie Shonk   •  04/29/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution success stories

Conflict resolution success stories in the news can be few and far between. Too often, when a dispute arises, parties escalate the conflict through hardball tactics in negotiation (threats, lies, and the like) rather than taking steps to address and minimize it. When conflict resolution success stories do appear, we typically fail to absorb their … Read More 

Conflict-Solving Strategies: The Value of Taking a Break

Katie Shonk   •  04/08/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

conflict solving strategies

Business negotiators coping with deeply entrenched conflict often feel defeated and hopeless when conflict-solving strategies fail. However, research from the world of international conflict suggests that taking repeated breaks from conflict can improve the odds of reaching agreement down the road. The research and resulting negotiation strategies may offer new hope to business negotiators. … Read More 

Conflict Resolution Scenarios: Negotiating Values

Katie Shonk   •  02/18/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

conflict resolution scenarios

The most heated types of conflict in organizations and in our personal lives often concern our core values, such as our personal moral standards, our religious and political beliefs, and our family’s welfare. Such values conflicts can escalate and intervening quickly in cases of conflict is essential. The following three conflict resolution scenarios can help … Read More 

Ask A Negotiation Expert: Facing Difficult Problems? Bring High-Level Values to the Table

PON Staff   •  01/31/2019   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Melvin Shakun is a management consultant, professor emeritus at New York University, and founding editor of the international journal Group Decision and Negotiation. He spoke with Negotiation Briefings about how negotiators can break through impasse and resolve conflict by appealing to common values.
Negotiation Briefings: How do you define values in the context of negotiation?

Melvin Shakun: … Read More 

Conflict Management: Intervening in Workplace Conflict

PON Staff   •  12/25/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

conflict management

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 

Facing controversy? Don’t forget to negotiate

PON Staff   •  11/30/2018   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Looking back, it’s almost hard to imagine, but when then–San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting down for pregame performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” no one noticed. He’d sat through two national anthems during the 2016 preseason before reporters asked him about it. Citing racial oppression and police brutality, Kaepernick explained that he planned … Read More 

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