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.

Strategies to Resolve Conflict over Deeply Held Values

Katie Shonk   •  11/30/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Strategies to resolve conflict

Some of our most heated negotiations and disputes concern our core values, including personal moral standards, religious and political beliefs, and our family’s welfare. Business partners sometimes clash over the ethical standards they expect each other to uphold. Parents might forbid their teenager from attending a party during the pandemic. Friends may feel bitterly divided … Read More 

Integrative Negotiations: Dispute Resolution Through Joint Fact-Finding

PON Staff   •  11/17/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Sometimes parties to a dispute disagree on key facts and forecasts but lack the technical or scientific expertise needed to come to a consensus. Suppose, for instance, that a developer is seeking to build a high-rise condominium building in a village that is experiencing a development boom. Longtime residents fight the proposal, arguing that another … Read More 

Conflict Negotiation Skills for Broken Contracts

Katie Shonk   •  11/16/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many agreements—renting a concert venue, hiring workers for a new café chain, acquiring a company—became untenable or illogical overnight. But it’s not easy to exit a signed contract without risking a costly legal dispute. By sharpening our conflict negotiation skills, we can negotiate satisfactory solutions without ending up in court. One … Read More 

International Negotiation Role Playing: Understanding the Theory and Practice of Systemic Peacebuilding

PON Staff   •  10/27/2020   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution

Policymakers, practitioners, and academics have seized on the need for peacebuilding negotiation strategies in international negotiation to be as complex and adaptive as the societies within which they work.

As a result, there are loud calls for “whole of government” or “whole of community” approaches that cross traditional sectoral boundaries.  The problem is that these approaches are … Read More