Conflict Resolution: A Proven Model for Success

By Dean Don Capener

Why should you care about conflict resolution?

conflictWe all experience conflict and have misunderstandings with co-workers, clients, customers, suppliers, and especially our superiors within the organization. There is never a week in a person’s life when conflict management skills are not essential to their personal well-being and progress within and outside of the organization. Learning to read the signs of conflict management will enable you to understand the hidden issues behind the conflict and experience greater success in your career.

Become a Certified Corporate Conflict Resolver in Six Steps

1. Learn the language of conflict resolution.
Similar to learning a foreign language, the language of conflict resolution is an acquired skill. Some have a natural aptitude for this language and others must work very hard to overcome what is not natural. The natural person is selfish and driven by internal and personal reasons. The peacemaker is open to take time to listen, understand the issues, and move their own position to adapt to the needs of the team. One example is the definition of peacemaker. Peacemakers are not weak or without a backbone. They are the strongest individuals with the highest levels of emotional intelligence.

2. Recognize the conflict.
You can begin to resolve conflict by first recognizing it. If you cannot see misunderstandings and team conflicts for what they are, you cannot positively address them. If someone is habitually causing or creating conflict, it is not enough to be sorry. Instigators must be taught to recognize their natural inclinations before damaging performance of the team.

3. An earnest desire to learn from the conflict.
As mentioned in #2, it is not enough to recognize the conflict. A conflict resolver learns from their mistakes and compensates for any loss sustained through their error or mistake. The desire to learn to work smart and resolve the conflict is an essential trait for those engaged in working with culturally diverse teams.

4. Acknowledge the conflict exists.
Acknowledge one’s errors and mistakes in judgment. This fourth step is often the most difficult since we are taught to hide our weaknesses and mistakes and push blame onto others. Becoming honest with your teammates and acknowledging your own faults and miscalculations are essential to long-term improvement and progress. True honesty is admitting your own mistakes and being truly happy for the success of teammates and co-workers, especially when your boss is not watching you.

5. Be the first to offer the olive branch.
The fifth step is a commitment to take positive action to address the conflict. Set a plan in place to resolve the conflict through face to face contact with the other party. Sometimes the act of explaining steps 1-4 will resolve an issue. However, when a large amount of damage has been done, a peacemaker may be necessary as a mediator. When you are at fault for causing the conflict, meet with the person one-on one if possible. A liar may make the truth known and correct, to some degree, the damage done by the lie. A gossip that has slandered the character of a teammate may make partial restitution, through strenuous effort, to restore the good name of the person harmed. If, by carelessness, the wrongdoer has destroyed team dynamics or property, they may restore or pay back the loss. Conflict resolution requires action.

6. Demonstrate your conflict resolution skills by mentoring others in this process.
There is no better way to develop conflict resolution skills than by teaching it to others in your organization. Teaching these skills will help you master the process and become a certified corporate peacemaker. Practicing the steps in the process will help it become ingrained into your management style. If you commit to learn from your past conflicts and quickly resolve future problems, you will be successful in creating a healthy and productive team environment. Greater profits and productivity will be the by-products of this process.
Capener New Photo_LargeDr. Don Capener is the Dean of the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University. He earned a Ph.D. in international management from the International School of Management in Paris, France. His master’s in business administration was conferred by the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. His bachelor’s degree in political science, economics, and Asian studies are from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.


Leave a Reply