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What Are the Different Types of Conflict Resolution?

By L. Terry
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Conflict resolution ranges from informal, non-legally binding methods to more structured legal procedures. All of them apply to workplace conflict, and all of them can help organizations avoid lawsuits and other legal battles. Some of the most common forms of conflict resolution are negotiation, mediation, arbitration and mediation-arbitration, and all of them focus on solving the conflict with the best interests of all parties involved in mind and avoiding court.

If the conflict isn't too severe, simple negotiation might suffice. With this process, the conflicting parties agree to discuss their concerns with each other openly. They might share precisely what actions, practices or policies they are upset about and make suggestions about how the conflict can be resolved. As part of the conflict resolution, the involved parties typically agree to work together to find a compromise with which they all feel comfortable. This usually is an informal process, perhaps consisting of a meeting between the conflicted parties and a member of the senior management.

If the conflict has escalated, mediation might be more effective, especially if the parties can no longer communicate or work together. Business mediation involves hiring a neutral third party to facilitate a discussion between the people involved and help them reach a solution. The mediator does not have any legal power over the final decision but instead acts as a middleman, encouraging all parties to open up about their concerns and urging them to agree to a solution as soon as possible. The mediator can be someone within the organization, such as a manager, or the company can hire someone from outside the company to oversee conflict resolution.

Business arbitration is similar to mediation in that it involves bringing in a third party to facilitate discussion and a solution. It differs in that the mediator has the legal power to determine the solution. The arbitrator talks to everyone involved about the situation and then makes a decision. The parties involved have no say over the decision and are bound by whatever the arbitrator decides. Arbitration might be necessary if the conflict has escalated so much that there is a great deal of hostility between the people in conflict.

Mediation-arbitration combines these two approaches and offers greater flexibility in conflict resolution. The involved parties first try to resolve the conflict with mediation, but if that doesn't work, the mediator makes the final decision. The organization and the people involved typically agree to a set amount of time to settle the dispute without turning it over to someone else to make the decision.

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Discussion Comments
By arod2b42 — On Feb 09, 2011


I think that these methods have been proven to work, both in workplace conflict resolution and in international conflict resolution. National leaders and politicians recognize the vital importance of calmly sitting down, smiling, and chatting with their worst enemies. This can often make all the difference in settling things peacefully and avoiding unnecessary bloodshed or a nuclear fallout. It is in the citizens' best interest to elect a leader who is capable of dealing kindly and cooly with people in the worst situations.

By GigaGold — On Feb 08, 2011

Conflict resolution skills come with the basic recognition that every conflict and every crisis is actually a godsend opportunity to shine. Your best moments can come about in the worst and most difficult and controversial situations. The ability to remain calm and use proven conflict resolution techniques in times of great discomfort will prove you to be a respected and able leader.

By Leonidas226 — On Feb 08, 2011

The best way to resolve conflict resolution in the workplace is to calmly and confidently approach the person you are having issues with, expressing your own feelings in a non-angry and understanding expressive manner, and listening to understand and grasp their feelings about the matter. This confrontation can take the form of a meeting for lunch or coffee, and may require a third party, depending on how vicious the conflict may have become. This kind of calm confrontation is a win-win situation: ideally, you will come to terms with the person and they will be understanding. If not, they will lose their cool and throw a fit of rage, which will make you look good and make them look like a fool.

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