The primary goal when resolving conflicts is to identify potential sources of conflict before they arise. Doing so is time effective and prevents a potential lengthy process of dispute resolution which may be unable to resolve the source of the initial conflict. Communication is key to efforts that identify potential conflict as it empowers the otherwise, especially in an employer-subordinate relationship to clearly articulate grievances that the other party can work to redress. After the root of the problem is eliminated, the other party can work to resolve the dispute, if it has not been resolved by attacking the root of the conflict.
What are ways to increase communication between two parties?
For organizations especially, hired professionals can enable communication within the organization by serving as a liaison or representative. This liaison will maintain connections to both sides, for example subordinates and employers and articulate the needs and issues faced by both sides. If the relationship breaks down due to a lack of communication or trust, third party individuals can enter the dispute and work to foster communication. This conflict resolution strategy is called conciliation.
What are other methods of resolving conflicts?
No method of resolving conflicts will be entirely acceptable to both parties as the all involve one or both parties shedding some degree of self-interest in the name of conflict resolution. For instance, one side may choose to accommodate the demands of the other party if the accommodating party recognizes that their needs are not as important as the needs of the opposing side.
Two other methods, known as collaboration and compromise, involve the two parties working closely together, sharing resources and common goals to achieve a larger goal. Collaboration occurs when both sides are relatively equal in strength, interests and resources and their goals are not mutually exclusive. Compromise is an element of conciliation where both parties will set aside some demands to work together on larger, more important issues. This does of course require one or both sides to lessen demands that could be relatively important in the name of achieving the larger goal. As with the others, this is an imperfect solution for one of both sides.
Lastly two other methods of conflict reduction involve drastically different approaches. One party with a superior advantage may attempt to complete with the other side and overwhelm their demands. This superior position in a conflict eliminates the need to bargain and make concessions and instead makes one side a loser and another winner. There are obvious drawbacks to this approach in any organization as further conflicts may arise from unresolved grievances and bad faith on the part of the dominant party.
A smaller party may choose “avoidance” and avoid bringing attention to a conflict in hopes that the conflict will either resolve itself or that the side may have a stronger bargaining position in the future that prevents it from being ignored or crushed by a stronger side. The drawback here is that the conflict may never be resolved and it may lead to further, far more drastic conflicts in the future.