Civil Negotiation and Mediation Blog

Resolving Conflicts at Work

Posted by Nancy Hudgins on Thu, May 10, 2012

resolving conflicts at work

I had the great pleasure of spending two days earlier this year with Ken Cloke, an internationally acclaimed mediator and author, and a treasured mentor.  Ken and Joan Goldsmith wrote Resolving Conflicts at Work some time ago and have recently updated it.  There are gems of wisdom in this book that you can use as negotiation strategies or when you are at impasse in mediation.

Their take on conflict is that by moving into it, instead of away from it, you will learn more about yourself and the person you are having the conflict with, by discovering their, and your, needs and interests.  This allows you and the other person to:

  • Acknowledge what you have in common
  • Clarify and resolve the issues dividing you
  • Devise creative solutions
  • Collaboratively negotiate differences
  • Identify and resolve the underlying reasons for the dispute
  • Learn from each other and the conflict
  • Strengthen and revitalize the relationship

They point out that we spend so much time on our conflicts at work.  (I know I do: thinking about them, talking to other people about them, and worrying about them.)  Instead, they ask, why not invest that time in working on your own personal and organizational growth, learning, skills and effectiveness?

Here are their ten strategies that can lead you from impasse to resolution:

  1. Understand the culture and dynamic of conflict
  2. Listen empathetically and responsively
  3. Search beneath the surface for hidden meanings
  4. Acknowledge and reframe emotions
  5. Separate what matters from what gets in the way
  6. Solve problems paradoxically and creatively
  7. Learn from difficult behaviors
  8. Lead and coach for transformation
  9. Explore resistance and negotiate collaboratively
  10. Mediate and design systems for prevention

Add this book to your list.  It will help you negotiate life’s ups and downs, at work and everywhere else.