Development

What is Conflict Resolution, and How Does It Work?

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

How to manage conflict at work through conflict resolution

If you work with others, sooner or later you will almost inevitably face the need for conflict resolution. You may need to mediate a dispute between two members of your department. Or you may find yourself angered by something a colleague reportedly said about you in a meeting. Or you may need to engage in conflict resolution with a client over a missed deadline. In organizations, conflict is inevitable, and good conflict management tools are essential.

What is conflict resolution, and how can you use it to settle disputes in your workplace?

Conflict resolution can be defined as the informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute.

Several common cognitive and emotional traps, many of them unconscious, can exacerbate conflict and contribute to the need for conflict resolution:

  • Self-serving fairness interpretations.Rather than deciding what is fair from a position of neutrality, we interpret what would be most fair to us, then justify this preference on the bases of fairness. For example, department heads are likely to each think they deserve the lion’s share of the annual budget. Disagreements about what’s fairlead to clashes.
  • Overconfidence.We tend to be overconfident in our judgments, a tendency that leads us to unrealistic expectations. Disputants are likely to be overconfident about their odds of winning a lawsuit, for instance, an error that can lead them to shun a negotiated settlement that would save them time and money.
  • Escalation of commitment.Whether negotiators are dealing with a labor strike, a merger, or an argument with a colleague, they are likely to irrationally escalate their commitment to their chosen course of action, long after it has proven useful. We desperately try to recoup our past investments in a dispute (such as money spent on legal fees), failing to recognize that such “sunk costs” should play no role in our decisions about the future.
  • Conflict avoidance.Because negative emotions cause us discomfort and distress, we may try to tamp them down, hoping that our feelings will dissipate with time. In fact, conflict tends to become more entrenched, and parties have a greater need for conflict resolution when they avoid dealing with their strong emotions.

Given these and other pitfalls, how can you set up a constructive conflict resolution process when dealing with conflict at work and other realms? Conflicts can be resolved in a variety of ways, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

  • Negotiation.In conflict resolution, you can and should draw on the same principles of collaborative negotiation that you use in deal-making. For example, you should aim to explore the interests underlying parties’ positions, such as a desire to resolve a dispute without attracting negative publicity or to repair a damaged business relationship. In addition, determine your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA—what you will do if you fail to reach an agreement, such as finding a new partner or filing a lawsuit. By brainstorming options and looking for tradeoffs across issues, you may be able to negotiate a satisfactory outcome to your dispute without the aid of outside parties.
  • Mediation.In mediation, disputants enlist a trained, neutral third party to help them come to a consensus. Rather than imposing a solution, a professional mediator encourages disputants to explore the interests underlying their positions. Working with parties both together and separately, mediators seek to help them discover a resolution that is sustainable, voluntary, and nonbinding.
  • Arbitration.In arbitration, which can resemble a court trial, a neutral third party serves as a judge who makes decisions to end the dispute. The arbitrator listens to the arguments and evidence presented by each side, then renders a binding and often confidential decision. Although disputants typically cannot appeal an arbitrator’s decision, they can negotiate most aspects of the arbitration process, including whether lawyers will be present and which standards of evidence will be used.
  • Litigation.In civil litigation, a defendant and a plaintiff face off before either a judge or a judge and jury, who weigh the evidence and make a ruling. Information presented in hearings and trials usually enters the public record. Lawyers typically dominate litigation, which often ends in a negotiated settlement during the pretrial period.

In general, it makes sense to start off less-expensive, less-formal conflict resolution procedures, such as negotiation and mediation, before making the larger commitments of money and time that arbitration and litigation often demand. Conflict-resolution training can further enhance your ability to negotiate satisfactory resolutions to your disputes.

Written by: R. Erickson

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florida mediation and arbitration
Development

Executive Coaching: Effective Conflict Resolution

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

Executive coaching has become an investment that continues to provide a host of benefits for organizations of all sizes, both small and large. By addressing numerous critical elements of successful leadership, executive coaching boosts key leadership qualities and leads to a more productive workplace. Coaching skills acquired by leaders offer multi-level benefits.

In today’s dynamic environment, leaders, managers, and executives are expected to exhibit effective leadership, accountability and team change management skills. When business leaders drive performance from an empowered place in leadership and accountability, they become more confident to make critical decisions, as well as interact with and lead their teams. For example, Retention Coaching skills can help to encourage loyalty to an organization and boost employee retention. At the same time, when leaders are supported and provided with further growth opportunities in their soft skills, they feel a greater sense of connection and commitment to the organization at large. By learning highly effective coaching competencies, leaders become more resourceful and equipped to encourage open communication, setting the stage for a positive work environment.

Employee Development  

By learning proven coaching tools, a general manager, for example, can deeply enhance their communication skills, and consequently, help the organization to boost its team communication at large. Leaders who practice coaching skills display a better Emotional Intelligence and have positively influential social skills. These leaders can communicate effectively, which means they can lead without coming across as dominating; they are good at negotiating for the benefit of all parties involved: they can significantly boost team performance, combining their negotiation and leadership skills to meet the company’s short and long-term goals.

Team Efficiency  

On top of developing effective leaders and managers, coaching competencies can improve the function of a team, department, and entire organization. Leaders with coaching skills are well equipped to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each employee both on an individual and team level. This allows the organization to plan the resources at hand strategically and keep things working as they should.

Conflict Management   

One of the key values that leaders with coaching skills offer is an alternative way of resolving disputes in the workplace. Managers, executives, supervisors, team leaders and CEOs require a range of skills to perform their leadership functions while minimizing tensions resulting from conflict avoiding Conflict, providing ineffective and perfunctory responses and taking biased measures to resolve disputes are common unsatisfactory ways that leaders without coaching skills commonly use to address workplace conflict.

The consequences of addressing conflict in this way often produce adverse effects on the organization’s bottom line. When dealt with ineffectively, stress, anxiety, anger, and other related emotions can negatively impact productivity, employee, and team satisfaction.

As a tool for conflict management and resolution, executive coaching provides leaders with efficient ways to address issues with both short and long-term benefits. More specifically, coaching skills help leaders to enhance or develop:

  • An insight into their habitual dispute resolution style and triggers that may be inefficient or counterproductive
  • Their personal communication skills and preferences for addressing conflict
  • Effective ways to address the root cause of a conflict as opposed to focusing on the symptoms
  • Ways to identify their own needs and those of their team members, with respect to the issue in dispute
  • Their existing skills in resolving conflict in conciliatory and productive ways
  • The confidence and ability to consider a wide range of options to resolve conflicts
  • Alternative ways to replace counterproductive and habitual behaviors
  • A sense of the quality of life at work and overall sense of well-being, resulting from improved relationships and extra skills that can be applied in other problem-solving situations, and reduced stress and anger.
  • Methods of effective and constructive dispute resolution that offer a greater insight into conflict origins

With the right support in skills development, leaders in organizations can create a coaching workplace culture by building greater self-awareness and developing individual interpersonal skills. By utilizing coaching skills, leaders can build conflict resilience and facilitate more satisfactory employee relationships, especially in situations where conflict has been a chronic problem in the team environment. It goes without saying that conflict costs time, money, energy, morale and adversely impact an organization. When leaders learn how to leverage coaching tools, they can formulate effective ways to prevent and resolve conflict, resulting in a healthier and more productive team environment.

Biography

Patrick Cioffi is the founder of Inspired Mediation & Arbitration Services (IMA) and is a Florida Supreme Court Certified County Mediator and a Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator.  

He is also trained in Circuit Civil, Family and Elder Care Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

The firm is committed to providing exceptional professional services to assist parties to maximize the ultimate benefit of mediation, as the parties are in control of the outcome.

Mr. Cioffi is effective in working with people and their attorneys to evaluate their positions, explore viable agreement options and create solutions that are mutually acceptable and agreeable to the parties.

He is a career businessman with expertise in Contract Negotiations, Corporate and Organizational Development, Sales, Marketing, Intellectual Property, Business Strategies, Finance, Technology Solutions and Computer Software Logic.

In addition, he has operated in 23-vertical markets including but not limited to, Hard-goods, Soft-goods, Construction, Tenant/Landlord, Business, Publishing, Finance, and Corporate and Employment disputes.

Due to his more than 45-years of business experience, he brings to the mediation and arbitration process an understanding of the issues, concerns, and complexities inherent in business matters. His hands-on and unbiased approach combined with impeccable listening skills gives him the unique ability to zero-in on the root issues. Thus, saving valuable time and money on the part of the parties.

His view of a successful negotiation and conclusion of all matters is when both people agree and walk-away feeling that they have accomplished their goals and have resolved their issues, respectfully.

Written by: R. Erickson

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