Best Practices for Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are an avoidable fact of life. From time to time, we all find ourselves surprisingly involved in them. How we react to and handle conflict is what defines us, instead of avoiding it. While others struggle with fear and resentment when facing a heated disagreement, some of us can naturally confront the issue and easily settle things.

Mediator, arbitrators and other neutrals are specialists who can help settle disputes, especially in extreme cases when it has elevated to such a point that a professional intervention is necessary to end it. However, even before the issue reaches the point of needing professional guidance, there are plenty of simple techniques that we can all employ to deescalate the conflict.

Calm Down

Taking a breath is the first key to conflict resolution. Anger is the worst way to deal with conflict. Instead of helping the process, it can often cause harm, and sometimes, irreparable damage to it. When you let your emotions carry you in the heat of the moment, they will lead to poor decisions which you quickly regret when things quiet down.

Be Polite and Show Respect

The aphorism "respect goes both ways" does wonders when handling a disagreement. Respect will often prove to be reflected back at you if you start off the discussion by showing it. It is therefore important for both parties to adopt the posture and rhetoric of respect even if they are seething with anger.

Be Specific

In every conversation, details matter. They become even more important when it comes to discussions and negotiations. Beware of vague terms that may be misinterpreted and defined incorrectly, and thus result in the argument erupting again, even more heated this time. One of the worst things that can happen after reaching an agreement is discovering that your definition of a word like "soon" differs from the other person's definition.

Be Open Minded

Many experts agree that the conflict resolution process is almost guaranteed to fail if you enter a discussion with no intention of compromising. There is very little hope for success if one party's goal is to dominate and triumph over the other. It is therefore more productive think about what you'd be willing to compromise on before participating in the conversation. Not only is this a more flexible approach, knowing beforehand where you're willing to give ground also increases the chances for progress and success.

Seek Neutral Ground

Trying to conduct negotiations in places where we feel secure is a natural instinct. While this may make you feel more comfortable, it often has opposite effect on you counterpart. Instead of insisting on a place that may cause distress the other party, agreeing on a neutral ground that allows both of you to relax and move the process further along.

In the end, if your own efforts aren't leading anywhere, it might be best to consult with professionals. Mediation or arbitration can let cooler heads prevail, and find creative solutions you've missed.

Learn how mediation can help you resolve any commercial and business disputes through interest-based bargaining. Mr. Goldlust is offering his confidential services to parties jointly requesting a neutral facilitator in matters relating to employment, union management relations and general commercial disputes. Call 302-483-2000 or visit

This article was published on 16 Aug 2014 and has been viewed 529 times
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