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Identify skills and approaches needed for resolving conflicts

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

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Although partnership-working means that everyone is striving towards the same goals, disagreements may arise about how this should be achieved. These conflicts must be managed effectively to ensure that the team continues to work together and collaborate effectively going forward.

It is extremely important to remain calm during conflict resolution and listen carefully to the feelings and views of everyone involved so that you can empathise with them and work towards a compromise that suits everybody. Active listening and negotiation can be essential skills for this. Achieving a win-win situation should be the ultimate goal.

It will be useful to establish early on exactly what the conflict is about. For example, is it personal or work-related? Does it relate to how a certain task should be performed? You should also ensure that the conflict resolution process is performed away from the work environment so that privacy and confidentiality are respected and professionalism is maintained.

You should ensure that you keep your feelings and emotions separate from the facts of the disagreement. You should be able to express your views calmly and succinctly and be assertive without coming across as aggressive. One technique is to:

  1. Describe the situation
  2. Express your views on the situation
  3. Explain what you think needs to be done

Avoid blame and focus on the disagreement rather than the individual. You should also avoid exaggerating, over-generalising or trivialising the issue.

Effective communication is a key component of resolving conflicts. This includes being open, honest and having a positive attitude with a genuine desire to resolve the dispute.

Sometimes there will be no resolution that will satisfy everybody so you may need to use negotiation skills to reach a compromise. When a compromise cannot be reached, mediation from a third party may be needed.