Conflict Resolution

Exxperientia | May 21,2020

“A clash of interests, values, actions or directions.” Edward De Bono

Edward De Bono goes on to say that there are no villains. There are only intelligent people locked by logic and continuity of their position in the argument / clash mode.  

It is unfortunate that the parties most directly involved in a dispute may be in the worst position to settle the dispute.

Conflict can be defined as a condition between or among people:

Whose jobs are Interdependent

Who feel angry

Who perceive the other(s) as being at fault; and

Who act in ways that cause a business problem

There are 3 roads to conflict resolution: 

1. Fight / litigate

2. Negotiate / bargain

3. Design a way out

Only the first two are usually available to the disputants.  The design road normally demands a third party that can look at the situation from a third party angle.

Why Manage Conflicts?

There is a difference between arriving at a consensus and agreeing to an answer. In order to achieve consensus, people must understand why other people think in a certain way and then come to a decision that everyone can live with. When a decision is value-driven, the importance of consensus increases. 

Factors affecting this:


Poor communication skills

Fear of voicing an opinion

Time stress

Lack of respect

Reasons to manage conflicts:

Team Success 

Many people believe, though naively, that they can be effective team members if they simply perform the technical aspects of their jobs well.  Although technical skills are important, no team member, irrespective of how technically competent he / she is, will be successful without knowing how to manage interpersonal relationships.

Developing and maintaining effective interpersonal relationships is a key ingredient for team success.

Better Performance

If some of your team members are dissatisfied or de-motivated, this will impact their productivity in the following ways:

Their productivity is negatively affected.

Dissatisfied employees are not productive and unresolved conflicts may hamper a manager’s ability to create a departmental climate in which all employees can perform effectively.

Employee satisfaction/ retention

When issues are not communicated effectively, conflict is likely to erupt. Many team leaders prefer to avoid or ignore conflicts.  While this strategy may work in the short term, it can lead to problems in the long run.

This requires the team leaders to practice effective communication skills daily.  They must know how to get the information they need from others and how to make others understand them.  

Team leaders must also display sensitivity towards issues that may hurt the feelings of the employees.

Steps in conflict resolution

Identifying the Problem

1. Express your perception of the problem and invite the other person to do the same

2. Deal with the conflict in the absence of time limitations.

3. Communicate your stance openly in a non-threatening and non-accusatory way.

4. Concentrate on understanding the position and feelings of the other person.

5. Do not brand, accuse or insult the person.

6. Describe the conflict as a shared problem, not as a win-lose situation.

7. Define the conflict neatly and precisely.

Set a Goal or Objective

In many cases people have the same set of goals and objectives, this takes us to the next question that is “How to accomplish the goals?” without generating conflicts on the way.

1. A goal is the final outcome, something that is expected to happen in the future.

2. Methods should not be equated with goals

3. Each person needs to identify and state their goals

4. Search for a goal that is common to many

5. Broaden the goal by including more elements to it. This can get more people to support it.

6. Avoid attaching solutions to the goals; concentrate on the goals as much as possible.

Generate Solutions

1. Use the predefined goals and objectives to the assess the effectiveness of the solutions

2. Promote cooperation using actions that are not detrimental to goal attainment.

3. Choose solutions that  address joint needs

4. Seek for a compromise only when an ideal solution can’t be arrived at

Create an Action Plan

1. Formulate a detailed plan that addresses all the questions (who, what, when, where, how).

2. Establish the sequence of steps and time lines.

3. Identify the required human, material and financial capital.