Dispute Resolution – The Conflict Resolution Process

Left unchecked, conflict in the workplace leads to reduced productivity, lower employee morale, an increased risk of high staff turnover, and loss of talented workers. The severity of the consequences makes managing conflict in the workplace a top priority for executives.

No workplace is immune from workplace conflict and disputes. It impacts private businesses in every sector of the economy, including government agencies and non-profits. Few jobs or projects can advance without dynamic teamwork, and where there’s a team, there’s a high probability of conflict and disputes.

Given that reality, professionals experienced in the steps to resolve workplace conflict will find their skills in high demand.

What Does Managing Conflict in the Workplace Involve?

Dispute resolution is a formal process to address conflicts that arise in group settings. Resolving these workplace issues takes specialized education, training, and proficient mediation and arbitration skills.

Organizations emphasize managing conflict in the workplace because unaddressed grievances can lead to many negative results. Upset managers may fail to recognize employees for their work and overlook them for promotions. Employees might not put in their best effort if they feel conflict with a manager. And all disputes can lead to emotional outbursts that hamper creativity and reduce productivity.

Types of conflicts include issues between:

  • Co-workers
  • A manager and the person they oversee
  • Service providers and their clients
  • Entire departments
  • Management and employees

Professionals focusing on dispute resolution and conflict management take a systematic approach. These typically include holding a meeting between the two parties at a neutral location, setting ground rules for how each party treats the other, and brainstorming solutions to the issue.

Skills Needed for Dispute Resolution

Managing conflict in the workplace is a difficult task that requires both a disciplined approach and a specific skill set. Successful conflict management requires honing these skills.

Active listening. This is critical to success when resolving conflicts. Listening closely to what the other person is saying and repeating what they said means a person is truly listening. Active, focused listening helps them understand the origin of the complaint and the steps needed to resolve it.

Bias for action. This requires a focus on acting rather than waiting for someone else to do something. For example, an employee immediately seeks to alleviate an issue when they see they have upset a fellow worker. A bias for action helps address situations quickly before they grow into something much bigger.

Empathy. Understanding another person’s point of view and “seeing where they are coming from” makes conflict management much more accessible. When someone feels understood, they are more open to resolving their conflict. These conversations also open the door to finding solutions.

Facilitation. This involves creating an environment conducive to reconciling conflicts. Group facilitation techniques can also help avoid triggering group conflicts during decision-making. Essential skills in this area include diplomacy, insight, intuition, patience, planning, and organization.

Problem-Solving. Identifying the core problem in a complex, often emotional situation and finding a solution is critical for success in conflict management. Critical thinking skills also play a role in this crucial area.

TUW MA in Dispute Resolution

Touro University Worldwide helps graduate students develop the knowledge and skills needed to successfully manage conflict in the workplace through the online Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution program. The 36-credit, 100% online program features eight-week courses that allow students to earn their master’s degree in as little as one year.

Program coursework fosters skills such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration and facilitation, along with other foundations of dispute resolution and alternative dispute resolution. Students learn how to manage conflict in the workplace involving individuals, groups, and organizations. Program faculty bring years of experience to the classroom, as well as the most recent techniques and strategies in dispute resolution.

Graduates from the online MA in Dispute Resolution program are prepared to take on jobs in this growing, important field. They include managers, union representatives, advocates, consultants, arbitrators, and mediators.

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