Conflict is a struggle between individuals or groups that possess opposing goals, values or beliefs. When conflict occurs within a company or organization, it’s important to address these serious problems in order to avoid the escalation of negative feelings and actions within the workplace. One way to deal with conflict in an organization is to use the services of a conflict management specialist.

Businesses that use conflict management specialists benefit from the talents of specially trained mediators who work with one or more parties to resolve issues without taking the concerns to a courtroom. Ultimately, the strategies used by conflict management specialists contribute to an organization’s success as well as stronger relationships within the workplace.

Conflict Management Degree

Typical courses in a conflict management degree program focus on conflict resolution theories as well as negotiation, arbitration, facilitation and mediation techniques. Students learn skills that enable them to work with businesses to resolve emotionally charged situations that can negatively affect an organization’s work environment. Many students pursue internships or volunteer opportunities with conflict management professionals in order to apply theories learned in the classroom to the real world.

Dispute Resolution Job Growth

The conflict management field is constantly evolving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects conflict management jobs to grow 9 percent by 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Businesses understand the need for using neutral mediators to help diffuse volatile situations that lead to low morale and toxic work environments. In the past, conflicts within organizations often led to costly litigation in the court system. Businesses quickly learned that grappling with disputes and conflicts in the courts interfered with productivity and weakened relationships in the workplace. Today, disputes within organizations are often settled through communication facilitated by a specially trained conflict management specialist.

Conflict Management Jobs

Graduates of a conflict management degree program have the opportunity to work in an array of industries. The legal services industry hires the highest percentage (19 percent) of arbitrators, mediators and conciliators. State government employs 15 percent, and local government also employs 15 percent. After working in the field for a few years, some professionals decide to open their own consulting business or specialize in a specific type of conflict management.

Dispute Resolution Techniques

When a dispute arises within an organization, conflict management specialists arrange a meeting involving the opposing parties, preferably in a neutral location. Before beginning the discussion, specialists ask both parties to act and speak in a respectful manner to one another. Respectful treatment makes it easier for both parties to understand and appreciate each other’s ideas and opinions. Usually, specialists ask the parties to describe the dispute and the changes they wish to see made. The goal is to highlight behaviors and situations that need to be corrected in order to move forward in a positive manner.

Next, specialists ask all involved parties to repeat what the opposing party shared with the group. Then specialists summarize the information heard from all opposing sides. Specialists help the groups brainstorm possible solutions to the problem.

They analyze all feasible solutions to determine which is best. Finally, specialists ask the groups to agree on what should be done to correct the issue. Specialists request that the groups involved in the dispute apologize to one another and thank them for cooperating with the problem-solving process.

Working as a conflict management specialist requires active listening, critical thinking and decision-making skills. These qualities enable the specialist to guide groups toward a solution that satisfies all parties. If you are the type of person who possesses these kinds of abilities, working in conflict management may be the ideal job for you.