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How to Develop Successful Conflict Resolution Skills

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 28, 2020 • 4 min read

Workplace conflicts are an inevitability, and learning how to resolve disagreements between conflicting parties in a thoughtful way is a must for business professionals. Managing conflict requires interpersonal skills and an understanding of a few basic conflict management techniques. Successful conflict resolution not only alleviates temporary conflict situations but ensures a harmonious and collaborative workplace moving forward.



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What Is Conflict Resolution?

Conflict resolution techniques are strategies that allow two disputing parties to work toward a mutually satisfactory agreement. An effective conflict resolution is one in which both disputants leave feeling that their concerns have been heard and some or all of their needs have been met.

There are many types of conflicts that arise between coworkers in an office. Luckily, there is a wide array of conflict resolution skills that employees and managers can learn and apply, depending on the type of conflict in which they find themselves. The most basic foundation of any conflict resolution technique is an open and honest dialogue between all involved parties.

3 Reasons Conflict Resolution Skills Are Important

Conflicts on the job are unavoidable, and therefore, learning conflict management techniques is vitally important to navigating the professional world. Undergoing conflict resolution training and practicing conflict management strategies both make you a more open and collaborative employee or manager. Demonstrating good communication skills during a dispute resolution will help foster trust and respect in the workplace. A few additional reasons why conflict resolution skills are important:

  1. They promote effective communication in the workplace. Poor communication cannot lead to conflict, but it can also hamper business and depress productivity. Encouraging open dialogues to solve conflict situations will translate into better collaboration and communication in the long run.
  2. They help with stress management. Stress relief goes a long way in improving the mental health and wellbeing of employees. Having a good conflict resolution process in place in your office can help decrease the stress of all employees.
  3. They improve job satisfaction. Employees feel much better about their jobs when they feel that there are processes in place to help address conflict. Having a work environment where conflicts are worked through with care and emotional intelligence will help improve the overall job satisfaction of employees.
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9 Tips for Successful Conflict Resolution

There are a whole host of effective conflict resolution strategies that can be applied in the workplace. Here are a few basic techniques that can help build your conflict management skills and arrive at a positive outcome during your next conflict resolution session:

  1. Listen first. Always enter a conflict resolution session looking to first hear your adversary out. It’s important to have strong active listening skills and stay engaged with other disputants so that everyone feels heard. By entering with a listen-first mentality, you may realize that some of your preconceptions about what the other person wants may, in fact, be wrong.
  2. Take your own emotions out of the equation. Finding common ground often means making sure strong emotions stay out of the conflict resolution process. Having strong feelings during a dispute is natural, but allowing emotion to drive a problem-solving session may only exacerbate the conflict. If you’re leading a conflict management session, ask participants to try as best they can to keep strong emotions out of the process. This will allow disputants to focus on the facts and start to logically work towards a solution.
  3. Agree on facts. It’s important to establish ground rules and build consensus by agreeing on the basic facts of a conflict. If you can be methodical about agreeing to the basic components of a conflict, working toward a mutual solution is a much easier process.
  4. Offer compliments. It may seem counterintuitive in the moment, but offering compliments can help defuse a tense situation and also increase your leverage during the resolution of conflict. Praising an adversary can help build trust that you can work toward a mutually beneficial resolution.
  5. Maintain good relationships. It’s important that the involved parties try to compartmentalize conflict resolution in order to maintain lasting professional relationships. Disagreements arise between friends and loved ones all the time, so there’s no reason that coworkers shouldn’t have their fair share of temporary disputes. Remember that one conflict doesn’t define an entire professional relationship.
  6. Look for the root cause. Finding the causes of conflict requires you to trace the dispute back to the root of the problem. As best you can, build a timeline with disputants to see if you can work your way back towards the origin of a conflict. Isolating the cause of a dispute can often simplify the resolution process.
  7. Learn nonverbal communication cues. Body language and other nonverbal cues are just as important as spoken words during a conflict management session. Make sure you keep an open posture and stance and maintain eye contact during sessions in order to build rapport and maintain trust.
  8. Demonstrate emotional intelligence. It is vitally important that you show emotional awareness and maturity during a dispute resolution in order to avoid hurting people’s feelings and exacerbating disputes. Take care to focus on the facts and avoid getting personal during conflict resolution.
  9. Try to find a compromise. Work toward a win-win solution where both parties feel heard. An acceptable solution often requires both disputants to compromise and offer concessions to each other. Remember that workplace conflicts are not a zero-sum game and that win-win resolutions are almost always possible.


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