Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

At one company where I worked, a colleague had to sets of boxing gloves hanging from his wall, and underneath there was a sign that said “Conflict Resolution Kit”

Whilst this was meant as a joke, there are many people I have come across, who look to take this approach to resolve conflicts.

But in reality, fighting is just extending the conflict, it never resolves it. Even, if you win the fight, the conflict still remains, it might not be visible, but it’s there, and it will come back to the surface at some time, maybe not on today, and maybe no on this topic, but it will come back.

To resolve conflict we need to come to agreement, a real agreement, and the best way to do this is through a win-win solution.

When ever it becomes win-lose, or lose-win, or worst of all l0se-lose, the conflict is never really resolved.

In my opinion, conflicts need to be confronted, but not in a confrontational way.

We need to sit down and discuss the conflicts openly, looking for resolution.

This prevents unresolved ones from becoming a canker that festers into working relationships. There are many solutions available. An effective one is the Thomas Kilmann conflict management model, which approaches resolution focusing on five salient elements. They are compromise, competition, avoidance, collaboration, and accommodation. You will have to assess your particular problem to find a solution that works for all parties.

Conflicts are resolved through discussion, not through further conflict. You only need to look at the Arab Israeli conflict to understand that further conflict will never resolve that problem.

The best way to be prepared for the discussion: I think we really understand the other person position; to try and put yourself in their shoes; to try to understand what they are looking for; to try and find what they see as an acceptable compromise, and still feel that they have a win for themselves.

It is a negotiation, we need to understand what our walk away point is, the minimum that we can accept in order that we still see this as a win for us, as well.

If we can find something that we think they would genuinely find acceptable, and we know what our minimum requirements are then we should be able to propose something that we think will be acceptable to both parties.

We have to do this genuinely, we have to look for a 50/50 solution, not an 70/30 solution in our favour and still think of that as win-win. It isn’t.

In any circumstances, 70/30 would at best be WIN-win, and with this there will remain some resentment or conflict. We need to be fair, and we need to be honest about what we want and what we really need.

Often when we are in conflict there is a lot of emotion involved, and making decision when we are being emotional can be a difficult, if not impossible.

In these circumstances we may need to involve a mediator, someone who can look at things unemotionally, in order to propose  a realistic win-win solution.

I always like to try and resolve conflict without resorting to a mediator, but this does require us to make compromises, and that’s not always easy.

I hope that this advice has been helpful, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Or tell me about a conflict you have been involved in, and how you resolved it.


Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles