Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution

conflict resolution is the process of attempting to resolve a dispute or a conflict. Successful conflict resolution occurs by listening to and providing opportunities to meet the needs of all parties, and to adequately address interests so that each party is satisfied with the outcome. Conflict Practitioners talk about finding the win-win outcome for parties involved, vs. the win-lose dynamic found in most conflicts. While 'conflict resolution' engages conflict once it has already started , 'conflict prevention' aims to end conflicts before they start or before they lead to verbal, physical, or legal fighting or violence.

Conflict itself has both positive and negative outcomes. Practitioners in the field of Conflict Resolution aim to find ways to promote the positive outcomes and minimize the negative outcomes.

There is a debate in the field of conflict work as to whether or not all conflicts can be resolved, thus making the term conflict resolution one of contention. Other common terms include Conflict Management, Conflict Transformation and Conflict Intervention. Conflict management can be the general process in which conflict is managed by the parties toward a conclusion. However it is also referred to as a situation where conflict is a deliberate personal, social and organizational tool, especially used by capable politicians and other social engineers.

Conflict Practitioners work on conflict in many arenas - internationally, domestically, interpersonally and intrapersonally.


Among groups

Conflict resolution processes can vary. However, group conflict usually involves two or more groups with opposing views regarding specific issues. There is often another group or individual (mediator or facilitator) who is considered to be neutral (or suppressing biases) on the subject. This last bit though is quite often not entirely demanded if the "outside" group is well respected by all opposing parties. Resolution methods can include conciliation, mediation, arbitration or litigation.

These methods all require third party intervention. A resolution method which is direct between the parties with opposing views is negotiation. Negotiation can be the 'traditional' model of hard bargaining where the interests of a group far outweigh the working relationships concerned. The 'principled' negotiation model is where both the interests and the working relationships concerned are viewed as important. Often, face saving and other intangible goals play a role in the success of negotiation.

It may be possible to avoid conflict without actually resolving the underlying dispute, by getting the parties to recognize that they disagree but that no further action needs to be taken at that time. In many cases such as in a democracy, a dialogue may be the preferred process in which it may even be desirable that they disagree, thus exposing the issues to others who need to consider it for themselves: in this case the parties might agree to disagree and agree to continue the dialogs on the issue.

It is also possible to manage a conflict without resolution, in forms other than avoidance. For more, see conflict management.

Among non-human primates and other animals

Conflict resolution has also been studied in non-human primates (see Frans de Waal, 2000). Aggression is more common among relatives and within a group, than between groups. Instead of creating a distance between the individuals, however, the primates were more intimate in the period after the aggressive incident. These intimacies consisted of grooming and various forms of body contact. Stress responses, like an increased heart rate, usually decrease after these reconciliatory signals. Different types of primates, as well as many other species who are living in groups, show different types of conciliatory behaviour. Resolving conflicts that threaten the interaction between individuals in a group is necessary for survival, hence has a strong evolutionary value. These findings contradicted previous existing theories about the general function of aggression, i.e. creating space between individuals (first proposed by Konrad Lorenz), which seems to be more the case in between groups conflicts.

In addition to research in primates, biologists are beginning to explore reconciliation in other animals. Up until recently, the literature dealing with reconciliation in non-primates have consisted of anecdotal observations and very little quantitative data. Although peaceful post-conflict behavior had been documented going back to the 1960s, it wasn’t until 1993 that Rowell made the first explicit mention of reconciliation in feral sheep. Reconciliation has since been documented in spotted hyenas,[1] lions, dolphins,[2] dwarf mongooses, domestic goats[3] and domestic dogs

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