Conflict Resolution: What Is It and Why is It Important?
Research shows over 85% of employees experience workplace conflict due to stress, workload, or personal clashes. As a result, companies lose approximately 2.8 hours each week resolving disputes, amounting to $359 billion in hours paid.
On the contrary, companies that utilize effective conflict resolution tactics and promote a healthy corporate culture reduce their turnover rate from 48.4% to 13.9%. Furthermore, 95% of people agree that conflict resolution management can help them solve future conflicts. Therefore, understanding conflict resolution is critical to promoting a happy and healthy culture and ensuring you take action during disputes.
Conflict resulting involves managing and resolving conflicts between individuals, groups, and organizations to prevent disputes from escalating or spilling into violence. Conflict resolution entails various strategies, such as arbitration, negotiation, mediation, etc.
But using conflict resolution to solve disputes and build strong relationships can be tricky. Effective conflict resolution requires constant effort, from learning the right strategies to developing the necessary skills. Learn more about conflict resolution's definition, different types, benefits, and examples by reading on:
What is Conflict Resolution?
Let's cover the conflict resolution definition before diving into its nitty-gritty,
Conflict is inevitable, aggravated by innumerable factors like stress, frustration, or even competitiveness. These disagreements might occur between employees, family members, volunteers, committee members, clients, or organizations.
Conflict resolution is an effective way for opposing parties to find a middle ground and identify a peaceful solution to their disputes. Resolving disputes and disagreements requires a complex skill set and an understanding of how to reconcile emotions.
Therefore, the person resolving a conflict is often a mediator or a neutral party who offers an outside perspective to find a satisfactory and valuable solution. Sometimes, the people involved in the dispute might resolve it by putting themselves in the other person's shoes.
Types of Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution may vary depending on the unique situation and people involved. Let's discuss the three common types:
In this type of conflict resolution, a supervisor might convene a meeting between two people engaged in a dispute and try to find a peaceful solution. Or, a person may invite someone they're having a clash with and suggest working together on their issue.
In either case, assertiveness requires the following conflict-resolution skills:
- Managing Emotions
- Stress Management
- Voicing Opinions
A third party might encourage empathy by asking the two people involved in a conflict to describe how the other might feel and think. Therefore, motivating them to assess the situation from the lens of the opposition party.
Empathy is also critical for the negotiator or mediator, who must understand each party's perspective. In this type of conflict resolution, the resolver must have the following skills:
- Acquiring and GivingFeedback
- Identifying non-verbal cues
- Interpersonal skills
- Managing Emotions
- Recognizing Differences
- Welcoming Opinions
Interview and Active Listening
Interviewing and active listening often involve a mediator or supervisor who asks questions and listens carefully to determine the nature of a conflict. After that, they might suggest helpful ways for the two people engaged in a dispute to solve and move past it.
Here are several conflict resolution skills necessary for this:
- Relationship Building
- Sense of Humor
- Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
Why is Conflict Resolution Important?
Contrary to popular belief, ignoring a dispute will not make it go; instead, it might worsen, causing it to become highly destructive.
However, solving a conflict before it escalates can reap many benefits, including reducing stress, building deep relations, and helping achieve common goals. Here we discuss the primary causes of disputes and the benefits of conflict resolution:
What Causes Conflicts
Here are the three common factors leading to conflicts among loved ones, employees, and organizations:
Misunderstandings are one of the most prevalent causes of conflict. It might arise from misinterpreting the following:
- The nature and objective of a job
- The difference in values, beliefs, or needs
- Expectations about how someone should do a task
- Work conditions and wages
Effective communication relies on sending and receiving clear and complete messages. You can solve most relationship and organizational problems by focusing on the message's clarity. Both parties communicating are responsible for ensuring they consider these issues before sending a message.
Luckily, streamlining personal and workplace communication is not as challenging as it sounds. Here are several actionable tips:
- Hold regular staff/management meetings to promote better communication and transparency
- Create a work-life balance to ensure you're giving time to your loved ones
- Give everyone time to talk and voice their opinions
- Listen more than you talk
Frustration and Stress
Feeling frustrated, stressed, or exhausted can increase your irritability, thus leading to increased conflicts. Therefore, you must recognize the signs of workplace or personal stress to prevent burnout.
Try to help people pinpoint the underlying cause of stress and take steps to combat these factors. Sometimes, stress and frustration might arise due to the following things:
- Criticism and lack of management
- Continual Crises
- Dirty or untidy workspace
- Overcrowding or lack of privacy and personal space
- Poor communication
The tension between family members/staff members
Reasons to Solve Conflicts
Conflict resolution aims to help two people reach a satisfying, beneficial agreement. But there are several other reasons to resolve a workplace or personal dispute:
- To learn more about those with different ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds: Resolving a conflict requires you to look at the argument from the other person's perspective.
- To continue building a relationship with the opponent: If you find a peaceful solution with your opponent, you ensure that your relationships continue to grow and flourish.
- To find peaceful solutions to challenging situations: Disputes that escalate require time, energy, motivation, and a good reputation. Negotiating and finding a solution can help protect these resources while making new allies!
Benefits of Conflict Resolution
Now, let's dive into the benefits of conflict resolution:
Builds Strong Relationships
Personal and professional relationships can suffer due to unresolved arguments, leading to feelings of resentment or explosive behaviors. Effective conflict resolution is the key to reducing discontent that could damage relationships and facilitates better collaboration.
Moreover, communication, emotional awareness, and empathy are crucial for conflict resolutions that encourage strong, long-lasting, and productive relationships between people.
Helps Achieve Goals
Resolving a conflict can help the people involved be more productive and work towards achieving common goals.
After a resolution, they can utilize conflict resolution skills, such as compromising, negotiating, and compassion, to increase efficiency.
Conflict resolution teaches the people engaged in a dispute to tackle the problem as a team rather than each other. Therefore, it brings people together, enhances commitment, and helps mitigate feelings of defensiveness.
While conflicts can disrupt relationships, they also signify strong commitment and emotional attachment. By tapping into these feelings, each party can better understand the other one's goals, feelings, and thinking. As a result, conflict resolution can boost dedication and loyalty.
Promotes Active Listening
Active listening is a critical skill, regardless of your profession. In conflict resolution, no strategy will work if you don't actively listen to what the other person is saying.
Therefore, to listen actively, you must put your assumptions aside, keep an open mind, ask questions, and respond to people using their words. Disagreements often escalate because people don't pay attention and wait for their turn to speak.
However, by promoting active listening, conflict resolution can reduce future disputes.
What are the Five Best Conflict Resolution Strategies?
Conflict resolution is reaching an agreement for a dispute that satisfies everyone involved. When addressing a conflict, there are various strategies you can follow.
Here we'll discuss the five conflict resolution strategies that ensure a positive outcome from disputes:
Cognitive Errors to Consider
Successful conflict resolutions involve being self-aware and recognizing mistakes while resolving conflicts. Having this knowledge and correcting them can significantly improve the conflict resolution process.
So, before we discuss the different conflict resolution strategies, let's dig deeper into the common mistakes people make:
Often, we believe that we know what the other person is thinking and feeling based on our interpretations of their actions. The worst part? The assumptions are always negative.
As a result, psychoanalyzing and mind-reading the opposition party can ruin your relationship and create hostility. Instead, try asking about their feelings.
Overconfidence is another common mistake people make when arguing or disputing a matter. While this element only leads to embarrassment in personal disagreement, it can be detrimental to legal issues.
Furthermore, overconfidence can prevent you from understanding the other person's perspective, thus preventing you and the opposition from reaching a solution.
Sometimes, when a situation doesn't match our values or expectations, we blow it out of proportion by over-generalizing.
Instead of starting sentences with, "You always" or "You never," take a step back and identify whether what you believe is accurate. Furthermore, bringing up past conflicts to stir up negativity is counter-productive. It will only worsen the situation and prevent you from finding common ground.
Self-Serving Fairness Interpretations
"Self-serving fairness interpretations" involve one or more people deciding what is "fair" from a biased perspective. Unfortunately, this can lead to further misunderstandings and ruin relationships.
Therefore, conflict resolution requires you to discuss the dispute from a neutral stance.
Forgetting to Listen
Some people make faces, roll their eyes, interrupt, and decide what to say next instead of actively listening to the other person. Unless you make an effort to understand your opposition party, you won't reach a satisfying and beneficial solution.
Therefore, listening to the other person with an open mind is essential.
Making Character Attacks
Lastly, making character attacks is a common and destructive cognitive error that disrupts conflict resolution flow.
When one or more people resort to inflicting emotional damage, it creates a hostile discussion environment and negative perceptions. Therefore, respecting the other person is critical, as avoiding making low blows.
Top Five Conflict Resolution Strategies
There are five common strategies to resolve conflicts you can try in the workplace or at home:
Negotiating can be tricky, but it's vital to solving a conflict.
Negotiating a situation requires you to put your differences aside and work together to reach a peaceful conclusion. It can also encourage you to build relationships because it shows that you're willing to put your ideals aside to find a satisfying solution.
Furthermore, successfully negotiating a situation can help improve efficiency, commitment, and dedication.
Having a mediator is one of the most common yet effective ways of solving workplace and personal conflicts. This strategy includes a neutral third party who can help both parties empathize with each other while voicing their opinions.
Involving a mediator can offer you unbiased opinions on the situation, thus helping you provide answers based on facts, not personal feelings. Ultimately, it enables you to find a beneficial solution.
Compromising or reconciling seeks a mutual agreement to solve a personal or workplace dispute. In this case, both parties willingly forfeit several conditions to reach a solution.
Compromising is an effective way of resolving conflicts before they escalate and become destructive. Furthermore, it can be a temporary solution until the parties implement a permanent one.
As the name suggests, avoiding involves ignoring the conflict to avoid engaging in it. Moreover, avoiding allows them to forget that a problem exists.
In most cases, avoiding it is not a viable option. But sometimes, when there is no clear solution, or both parties need time before the confrontation, avoiding can improve communication.
In severe conflicts, litigation might be the best solution. In this strategy, both parties will go before a judge or jury.
Next, the judge will listen to their argument, weigh the evidence, and then make a fair and unbiased decision. The judge/jury might be anyone who is not directly involved in the conflict.
6 Conflict Resolution Skills
You'll need to develop complex skills to manage and mitigate conflicts successfully. Below are seven skills that are crucial for resolving disputes:
Problem-solving in terms of conflict resolution involves the pursuit of alternative solutions that satisfy the needs and goals of both parties.
It starts with prioritizing the conflict instead of trying to be "right."
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to sense and understand the emotions of others as well as your own. It is crucial for conflict management since it stops things from getting worse. Communicating with your opponent without provoking them will be simpler if you can accurately read their feelings. Everyone concerned may think sensibly and creatively about a solution when the parties acknowledge the disagreement's perplexity, rage, and irritation.
It's crucial to work together, find a middle ground, and compromise in a dispute because both parties think they're in the right. Collaboration ensures that all sides are heard, ensuring that the solution does not favor one party over another. Working together will also probably result in a quicker resolution. Collaboration involves putting aside your ego and working together to solve the current problem.
An excellent strategy to keep the dialogue going in a conflict situation is to use positive conflict management techniques. Conflicts are full of barriers; if you want to settle, you must be eager to overcome them. By approaching the issue with a positive outlook, you might put other participants at rest who might be apprehensive about the interaction.
Our natural reaction during a disagreement is occasionally to give in to strong feelings like wrath and irritation, but this rarely leads to a compromise. Maintaining composure when resolving a problem is crucial because your tone of voice can significantly impact a dialogue. Even though it could be challenging, maintaining composure is essential to avoid escalating the conflict.
Not Playing the Blame Game
Placing blame on one another during a dispute is the last thing you want to do. Pointing fingers will only serve to aggravate the conflict and make things worse. Instead, provide a secure environment that avoids blaming any one individual.
Additionally, you should avoid taking the initiative because doing so could make it more challenging to discover a solution. Instead, everyone should have a fair opportunity to speak without silencing the other. Giving everyone a chance to express their emotions and ideas is essential.
Step-by-Step Guide to Resolve Conflict
To negotiate a conflict's resolution successfully, follow these steps:
Understanding the Conflict
Conflicts can occur for a variety of causes. To win the argument, you must understand your opponent's interests and your own. Here are some inquiries you should make of yourself to describe the disagreement.
- What do I find interesting?
- In this conflict, what matters to me most?
- What am I seeking?
- What am I lacking?
- What worries, hopes or fears do I have?
Communicating with the Opposition
You can start talking to your opposition directly now that you've considered your interests and those of the other side. Here are some pointers for having productive conversations:
- You value others' opinions because they are the cause of your disagreements. You must consider whether or not anything is significant to them. Of course, recognizing does not imply consent.
- Let everyone participate. A resolution will matter to all who take part. People look for a fair compromise.
- Express your intense feelings. Allow the opposing side to vent.
- However, avoid responding to emotional outbursts! Instead of shouting back, try saying sorry. There is no harm in apologizing, and it is frequently a successful strategy.
- Be firm but adaptable. Instead of discussing your position, talk about your interests.
- Avoid making snap decisions. Continue to seek out information and ask questions.
- Find a method to make their choice simple. Instead of calling it a method to "save face," try to find a way for them to accept your perspective without coming across as weak in negotiations; egos matter.
Brainstorming and Selecting Resolutions
You can begin formulating solutions now that you know the goals shared by the two parties and ways to interact with them more effectively. Search for similar interests among the claims you have mentioned for yourself and your opponents. Both sides frequently have many same interests. For instance, both parties may value stability and public respect.
Before a brainstorming session, think seriously about how you'll organize the gathering. For the meeting, create a clear purpose statement. Try to select a small group of no more than 5-8 persons. Hold the meeting somewhere other than your specific location. Make sure the environment is relaxing and encouraging to feel safe. Find a neutral facilitator who can organize the meeting without expressing personal opinions regarding the disagreement.
Even with your best efforts and sincere intentions, there may be instances when you cannot resolve your issue. You should consider this possibility before launching into discussions. When will you decide to end negotiations? What other options do you have if you and your opponent cannot come to terms?
Early in the negotiation process, it's crucial to devise settlement choices; you should always keep your best option in the back of your mind. Compare your potential agreements with your opponent to this "best" option. You cannot negotiate if you don't know the alternative!
Start with brainstorming to come up with an alternate solution. After that, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Consider realistic and valuable alternatives. Consider how you may improve it as well.
The Bottom Line
There's no need to associate conflict with a frightening eight-letter word. We can improve our relationships and communicate our expectations regarding others' expectations by resolving disputes. You can choose when to avoid conflict and when to address it by comprehending the five conflict resolution techniques and putting those techniques into practice. It will improve your interactions with your coworkers and clients.
BillionActs has played a crucial role in highlighting conflict resolution and how it affects communities and societies. Moreover, it has run multiple campaigns to spread awareness regarding this issue and strived hard to make a difference in the world.