What is conflict resolution and how does it work?

July 25, 2022

What is conflict resolution

No one is so diplomatic as not to have an issue with anyone. Conflicts can happen between anybody. Our everyday interactions involve people who think, feel and reason differently from us. You’ll meet these people at work, at home, at your favorite grocery stores, and even on the streets. 

Most times, disputes arise from our interactions with them. And this conflict needs to be resolved. Sometimes you may be at the center of the conflict. Other times, you may be called upon to reconcile two warring parties. It could be two of your coworkers or employees, the couple next door, the cashier, and a customer at the local grocery.

The point is that conflicts are unavoidable, so we must find ways to resolve each dispute

What is conflict resolution?

Conflict resolution is simply finding common ground between two or more disputing parties. This process can be formal or informal. The primary purpose is to find a way to settle the issues the parties involved are having.   

Many things can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in our workplace or homes. These emotional traps and cognitive biases tend to worsen whatever misconception we have. You may not know it, but many of these cognitive biases and emotional pitfalls that determine how we react to conflicts are from our subconscious. 

Therefore, knowing how to resolve conflicts arising from our interactions with others is imperative. Civil discourse is one of the ways of resolving disputes in a respectful way between two concerned parties. 

Role of civil discourse in conflict resolution

Civil discourse involves productive discussions that allow different parties with different opinions to express them respectfully. In conflict resolution, civil discourse allows for the mutual exchange of views for better understanding. It allows parties with varying opinions to listen to each other, not because they want to fuel the disagreement but because they want to understand the other party better and resolve the conflict. 

Behaviors that hinder resolutions and worsen conflicts

Common behaviors that hinder conflict resolution:

Arrogance

We’re often bullish with our opinions and views, leaving no room for others’ perspectives or compromise. Because of this arrogance, we tend to have unrealistic expectations.  

Self-serving fairness

This occurs when we make unfair decisions and then look for excuses to justify them. A fair-minded person should make decisions that affect everyone from a place of neutrality and not based on what will favor them.

Avoiding conflict

Many of us believe that the best way to resolve conflict is to avoid it in the first place. We suppress their discomfort and overlook the things that provoke them, thinking it will go away with time.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go away. What happens is that those negative feelings solidify themselves and might erupt violently one day.

Escalation of commitment

When arguing with a coworker or negotiating a deal, it’s essential to remain rational. Avoid scaling your demands or attempting to get back what you have contributed during the cause of the negotiation. 

Other ways to resolve conflicts

We have seen the things that cause conflicts and prevent us from indulging in meaningful civil discourse. Notwithstanding, there are various ways to resolve disputes. Some of those ways are listed below.

Mediation

In this form of conflict resolution, the disputing parties incorporate a respected and trained neutral person to help them reach a common ground. This neutral person allows them to explore various biases and interests that may be a stumbling block to their reconciliation. 

Negotiation

Think of the negotiation technique as if you’re making a deal. Explore why the conflict occurred and tackle any underlying issues. Then look at the negative implication of allowing the conflict to linger and the positive perks of resolving it. 

Litigation

This seems to be the most popular method, although it may not be the most typical. Here the suitor and the defendant present their cases to the judge, who looks at the evidence presented and makes a ruling.

Arbitration

This is similar to litigation. In arbitration, a respected third party acts as a judge. The arbitrator listens to each person’s arguments and complaints and then decides. The decision is usually binding and not subject to appeal. However, any party that feels they couldn’t present their cases convincingly can negotiate to present a lawyer. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for ways to resolve your conflict and improve the quality of your civil discourse, you can start with any of the above. Try affordable and less officious ones like mediation and negotiation. If nothing changes, you can progress to the more capital and time-intensive ones. All these won’t work if you’re not committed to resolving the conflict.

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