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Conflict Management, Conflict Resolution and Mediation: Key Differences and Techniques


KEY POINTS

Conflict Management: Involves navigating ongoing conflicts to maintain harmony without necessarily resolving them. It is an integral part of organizational culture and depends heavily on the leadership's style of managing conflicts.
Conflict Resolution: Focuses on achieving a definitive end to a conflict through understanding underlying issues and engaging in constructive dialogue. It often involves techniques like negotiation, arbitration, or mediation.
conflict management and resolution
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JAMS Pathways Editors

Understanding Conflict Resolution and Conflict Management: Meaning and Application

What is conflict management?

Conflict management and conflict resolution, while sometimes used interchangeably, are not synonymous. It's important to distinguish the difference between conflict management and conflict resolution to tailor strategies effectively. Conflict management is about navigating conflicts as they arise, not necessarily resolving them. It's an ongoing process, an attempt to maintain harmony despite differing viewpoints. Organizations often integrate conflict management and resolution practices to handle disputes comprehensively. Each leader's conflict management style significantly influences organizational culture, and exploring different styles of conflict management can provide tailored solutions to unique organizational challenges. 

What is conflict resolution?

What, then, is conflict resolution, if not a part of managing conflict? Whether through negotiation, arbitration/mediation or other means, conflict management emphasizes the method, whereas conflict resolution underscores the definitive end—resolution. Conflict resolution requires a deep understanding of underlying issues and a commitment to constructive dialogue. A clear conflict resolution definition helps stakeholders understand their roles in mitigating disputes, and real-world conflict resolution examples demonstrate their practical application in the workplace. 

What is mediation?

Mediation is a conflict resolution method that involves a neutral third party: the mediator. In the mediation process, disputants are encouraged to communicate openly, understand each other's perspectives and collaboratively work toward a resolution, helping to clarify issues and explore potential solutions. Mediators don't make decisions. Instead, they guide the parties to common ground.

Skills for Mediation and Conflict Resolution

Whether it’s mediation, conflict resolution or conflict management, they all require the use of certain skillsets. Some common conflict resolution techniques are:

  • Active listening: The bedrock of all conflict-related processes; enabling a deeper understanding of the issues at hand
  • Reframing: Used in mediation particularly; restating negative messages in a positive or problem-solving manner
  • Consensus building: A goal in both conflict management and resolution; seeking a harmonious agreement that satisfies all parties

Reducing Workplace Conflicts through Dialogue

Effective communication is paramount in both conflict management and conflict resolution. It involves not only conveying thoughts clearly but also listening actively to others. Negotiation skills are also essential in conflict resolution, emphasizing the importance of effective communication and compromise. These communication strategies can preemptively resolve conflicts before they escalate. Understanding conflict escalation helps in designing interventions that prevent disputes from worsening, while effective conflict de-escalation techniques are critical in diffusing tense situations. 

Navigating Cultural Diversity

It's also vital to consider cultural differences in approaches to conflict. Different cultures may have unique ways of handling, perceiving and resolving conflicts. For instance, some cultures prefer direct confrontation and resolution, while others might favor a more indirect approach. Being culturally sensitive and aware while discussing examples of these types work conflicts helps in preparing strategies to address future issues and can enhance the effectiveness of conflict management strategies, particularly in diverse workplaces. 

Conclusion

Understanding the nuances of conflict management and conflict resolution, including the strategic use of mediation and other techniques such as collaborative problem-solving is crucial for maintaining organizational harmony. Investing in conflict resolution training programs can equip employees with the skills needed to handle conflicts efficiently, which can lead to durable and equitable solutions. By embracing a comprehensive and adaptive approach, organizations can both manage and resolve conflicts effectively, fostering a collaborative and productive work environment.

Disclaimer:
This page is for general information purposes. JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness. Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals.
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