Conflict resolution – How to achieve it

In the workplace, problems and conflicts will arise. Some problems may be minor and pass by without much issue. However, when problems fester or escalate, it can lead to a full-scale workplace conflict. When this occurs, management must be able to find ways to resolve the conflict before it causes greater workplace disruption and reduced productivity.

Early intervention is the best way to achieve workplace conflict resolution. It’s helpful if those in leadership positions possess conflict resolution skills to diffuse any problems.

What is conflict resolution?

Understanding the conflict resolution definition is the first step in being able to manage the disputes that will come up in the workplace. Conflict resolution involves being proactive instead of letting conflict get ahead of you. Doing so consists of having a management team in place that is tasked with resolving workplace disputes and issues.

While dealing with conflicts is never pleasant, it’s best to meet them head-on versus ignoring them and hoping they will just go away.

Tips to mediate a conflict resolution

Here is a list of steps and tips that can guide you in conflict resolution:

Have a meeting

Make sure you meet with both parties together. You should never meet with them separately to hear their stories because it can hurt the integrity of the resolution. One party may feel you are biased, and it’s also important that both sides can hear what the other side is saying about them.

Acknowledgment of the problem and willingness to resolve It

Once you have the parties together, it’s vital to get to the point. Acknowledge the conflict and elicit each person’s willingness to come to a resolution. Everyone must be on the same page before you can move forward.

Allow the parties to have their say

Let each party have a specified time to state their grievance or issue without interruption, like an opening statement in a court case. This helps both parties feel heard and validated. If necessary, you could give the parties a second round of time to speak to rebut or respond to what the other party had said.

Have each person provide suggestions for a resolution

Next, you can ask the parties to suggest how they would envision a resolution. If the atmosphere is tense at all, you could have them write down their suggestions, but discussing them is preferred.

Identify necessary changes and triggers

As the manager, you need to keep your eyes and ears open to identify any necessary changes or issues that could trigger conflict. If you see something that is a problem, let the parties know.

Create a plan that is satisfactory to both parties

Once everyone has given you their suggestions and you’ve identified the problems, it’s time to develop a plan that both parties can agree to. This will likely require some compromise on both sides.

Take disciplinary action if needed

In some instances, someone crosses the line during the conflict resolution phase. If one of the parties is obstinate, refuses to cooperate with the plan, or won’t compromise, then management needs to step in an take the appropriate action. It may involve discipline or termination.

Conflict management strategies

In addition to using the tips listed above, you can implement any of the following conflict management strategies for resolution:


This way of resolving a conflict is sometimes called smoothing, maybe because it “smooths down” the problem quickly. It consists of one person giving the other party what they want and coming to a speedy resolution.

Sometimes this can work, especially if the conflict is over something minor or not something one of the parties is deeply committed to. If one person doesn’t mind doing this, it can save a lot of time.


A compromise involves both parties contributing something to the resolution. In other words, they both must give in a little bit for the greater good of resolving the issue. This can bring about a reconciliation in a short amount of time if both parties are willing to move a little. It also prevents the problem from growing by not resolving it.

Other times, management may want to use compromise as a temporary fix until a more permanent solution is found. Maybe the conflict has multiple layers or is more complex. Compromising right away diffuses the tension while the long-term solution is worked on.


Collaboration is similar to compromise because it consists of both parties working together. But instead of both parties simply giving up something, it involves them working together to find a mutually agreeable solution. There may be some back and forth as they hash out a plan, but they are doing it together. So, the final solution will be a collaboration.


This way of resolving a conflict is not recommended because it involves being assertive and pushy to get to “win” the resolution. It’s different from accommodating because the party doesn’t start out willingly agreeing to give up their way for the other party. Instead, they may get pushed into it by someone who is more dominant than the other person. Management must be careful to step in and mediate conflicts involving two people with very diverse personalities or hierarchical positions.


It might seem easy to ignore a problem and hope for the best. It’s human nature to avoid conflicts because we don’t enjoy them. However, avoiding the conflict will not make it disappear. In fact, it could lead to deeper resentments and issues in the long term.

Conflict Resolution Skills

Not everyone is cut out for conflict resolution due to the stress of the position. To be successful, you need to have specific skills. Conflict resolutions skills include which of the following?

  • Problem-solving
  • Good listening skills
  • Assertiveness
  • Patience
  • Positivity
  • Interviewing ability
  • Empathy
  • Facilitation
  • Mediation
  • Accountability
  • Impartiality
  • Intuition
  • Leadership
  • Stress management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Creativity

If you chose every one of them, you chose well. Resolving conflicts in the workplace is a vital part of good management – and it isn’t easy. Ensure you have the right strategies in place to bring harmony to the work environment.