3 Approaches to Conflict Resolution

Although conflict is an inevitable part of our lives, most of us would rather avoid it whenever possible. However, avoidance rarely leads to resolution and sometimes the “wait and see” approach only allows a problem to fester and become worse.

In many cases, intervention is needed. With Creighton University’s online Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, you will learn how to use the tools available to you to resolve conflict.

Types of Resolution

Not all conflicts are created equal, which means they should not be approached with a one-size-fits-all solution. There are three ways to approach conflict that are commonly used in the workplace: systematic, third-party, and advocacy. Each has its own merits and can be used depending on what the situation calls for.

  1. Systematic. A systematic approach means that you create and follow a structured, predetermined process to achieve resolution. This requires establishing steps to follow with the specific goal of resolution in mind.  While you can tailor a system to your particular environment and needs, what’s important is that you have a clear-cut path to follow to take you from conflict to resolution. The system you create must include a process for assessing and revising the steps as needed.  A structured approach such as this ensures that everyone’s concerns and interests are identified and clarified, which will lead to the best results for all involved.
  1. Third-party resolution. Sometimes bringing in a neutral third party is the only way to find a solution that all sides can agree upon. Having an unbiased third party to negotiate and maintain a fair balance is effective both in workplace and interpersonal conflicts. Within an organization, third-party resolution could include mediation, arbitration, or litigation. While litigation is one of the most widely used forms of dispute resolution, mediation is recommended as the first, and often best, step to take. A mediator will not resolve the disagreement between the individuals concerned, but he or she will help facilitate a discussion between them in the hopes that the parties can together find a solution. Mediation allows the individuals involved in the dispute to maintain more control over how the dispute is resolved, and it is designed to create a win-win situation. Both arbitration and litigation end up with “winners” and “losers,” which can contribute to the deterioration of a relationship, be it personal or professional.
  1. Advocacy. With advocacy, you will defend or advocate for your position on a particular issue in hopes of advancing your viewpoint. There are several different types of advocacy. They include self-advocacy, in which you are essentially standing up for yourself, or peer advocacy, in which someone in a similar situation helps to make your position more clear.

Using Your Tool Kit

All three of these methods of conflict resolution have their place, but you must know in which cases each will work best to be able to implement them most effectively. An online Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton University can help you learn the many different tools available for addressing conflict and when to use them.