Conflict Resolution Techniques

Conflict Resolution

There are 5 conflict resolution techniques. But, before going into them, it is worth understanding what a conflict actually is, and why does it arise..

What is a conflict ?

In simple words it can be defined as an active disagreement between people with opposing interests or opinions.

In any project environment, conflict is inevitable. There could be different reasons for conflict such as

  • Scarce project resources
  • Unclear role definitions
  • Personal working styles of the individuals
  • Cost and schedule priorities
  • Individual ambitions etc

Resolving conflicts efficiently and effectively is one of the main duties of a Project manager and the success of the project often depends on the project manager’s ability to resolve conflicts.

Now, there are many ways to resolve conflicts. However, PMBOK mentions 5 techniques as general techniques for resolving a conflict.

5 Conflict Resolution Techniques

  1. Collaborate/Problem Solve/Confronting
  2. Compromise/Reconcile
  3. Withdrawal/Avoid
  4. Smooth/Accommodate
  5. Force/Direct

Let us look at one by one in detail..

Collaborate/Problem Solve/Confront 

  • “collaborate” in general means, taking into consideration different items. In line with this, The Collaborate technique is Collaborating multiple viewpoints (perspectives).
  • In this technique, the Project manager facilitates open discussion among the conflicting parties. 
  • It requires cooperative attitude and open dialogue between conflicting parties.
  • This technique typically leads to consensus and commitment.
  • This approach often leads to a WIN-WIN situation.

Compromise/Reconcile

  • This technique is looking for a solution that is acceptable to all conflicting parties and brings some degree of satisfaction to all the parties. 
  • This technique only temporarily or partially resolves the conflict. 
  • This approach leads to LOOSE-LOOSE situation, as no party gets everything.

Withdrawl/Avoid

  • As the name “Avoid” suggests, this technique is about avoiding a conflict situation.
  • It is retreating from an actual or potential conflict situation.
  • This is postponing the conflict, to get more time, to be more prepared, or wait out till the conflict dies out or be resolved by others.

Smooth/Accommodate

  • Name “Accommodate” suggests that, you are accommodating or accepting the views of the other party.
  • It is conceding one’s position to the needs of others to maintain harmony in relationships.
  • It is emphasizing the areas of agreement rather than the areas of difference. 

Force/Direct

  • It is forcing one view point at the expense of others. 
  • This technique can be used or enforced from a position of power, often to resolve emergencies.
  • This approach often results in WIN-LOOSE situation.

These 5 techniques are not used arbitrarily for any conflict situation. Each technique has its place and use. There are different factors that influence the conflict resolution techniques type that should be employed, such as

  • Importance of the conflict
  • Intensity of the conflict
  • Time and costs involved
  • Power of the people involved in the conflict
  • Need and motivation to resolve the conflict on a long term or short term basis
  • Importance of maintaining good relations
  • etc.

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