Conflict Resolution

How to do it, offending no one

Conflicts have a way of imposing themselves upon us. We may not be seeking one and yet it finds its way to test our mettle. Home, social gathering, work or the Board of Directors, conflicts just raise their ugly head to create undue friction. It might even apply what Confucius wrote about friction:

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”

Master negotiators have always been the most ardent fans of consensus building technique to break the stalemate in tough situations. Although it may sound impossible, the challenge becomes easier to handle with the help of scientific principles. The seasoned experts attack barriers from different angles where rigid attitudes meet with a give-and-take offer to analyze the most difficult barriers. Let us examine a few of the important components of a negotiated settlement in steps:

  1. Build rapport with both parties: The power to create consensus lies in the personality of the mediator. So long as we can win the trust of both the conflicting parties, the third outlook that of the mediator, becomes more acceptable. Failure will lead to the unnecessary breakdown of negotiations.
  2. Name the most important barrier to a general agreement: In most cases, the biggest hurdle is the easiest to overcome. This is the point with the highest possibility of tangibles
  3. Breakdown these tangibles into individual concerns so they get easier to pick one by one: smaller issues become easier to dissect. It weakens both their cases simultaneously
  4. Elaborate on each other’s choice options in the event consensus continues to elude: this exercise lets us highlight possible slide for both even below their prevalent status. Fear of loss is a powerful motivator in the decision-making process
  5. Analyze the merits and demerits of available alternatives. Let both sides witness their options shrink. This technique can bring out your ‘ground and pound’ strategy when executed with dexterity and help a clearer picture emerge. You made both of them aware of immediate loss against long-term gain
  6. Discuss the possibility of including the remaining alternatives into the original offer on the table. Give a carrot after showing the above stick of dwindling possibilities. This tactic can show how far ahead the two sides have moved towards consensus
  7. Highlight the negotiable, the flexible and then weigh them against the non-negotiable to reach a consensus. This exercise helps restate the three components to soften both parties’ stand in the light of a possible outcome
  8. If the deadlock persists, respect the participants’ emotions and take a short break for coffee, snacks, or lunch! Food helps soften the thought process while empty stomachs stress out fast. This could be the icebreaker in a non-formal setting. It allows members of each camp to talk about the alternatives among themselves and weigh the options

Caution: Do not suggest a ‘vote’ in the event consensus is still hard to reach. It is only when the majority in each camp shows keenness to accept the middle ground should they cast their ballot.

This is just one of many techniques of conflict resolution. I have seen it work well in many situations. Readers might have different experiences and/or observations. I shall look forward to learning from the discerning readers’ comments and/or critique.

P.S. The severity of the dispute determines how much effort we need to put into the exercise. Most matters of common concern bring out better results at the local level, with no outside help. Large numbers of agencies offer expert advice and mediation services to solve the toughest problems. The preceding synopsis is a curtain raiser on the art of skillful negotiations, derived from the author’s personal experiences. It is not a legal opinion in any form or manner as it is neither drafted nor vetted by a legal counsel. Actual results depend on some variables beyond the purview of this article.


Bharat Mathur
Bharat Mathur
WHERE goal setting and systematically achieving each one of them has been the ‘Mantra’, where earning trust by delivering value has been an uncompromising principle and where deeply impactful experiences have made an indelible impression to look directly into the eyes of toughest problems and tackling them head-on has been a major cementing glue in the foundation, Bharat Mathur fits the bill, hands down! Creating value for others, out of the challenges his career in the “C” Suite kept throwing at him left, right and center, Bharat now finds solace in being a ‘Guide by Your Side’ rather than a ‘Sage on the Stage with An Eye on What You Buy’! Past 4 decades of Bharat’s life have been no less eventful than that of anyone else in similar circumstances. However, the way he lived from one challenge to another and stayed focused on his goal is clearly visible as much in his Coaching as in his #1 Best Seller Book: “you Are YOU-nique: Realize Your True Worth”! His next book project tackles ‘Internet of things’ (IoT) from the viewpoint of a layman and helps understand this fast-approaching revolution in simple, easy-to-understand language with live examples: “SMART PHONE + I o T = INCOMPARABLE OPPORTUNITIES” Nurturing a number of successful businesses, mentoring a lot more towards astronomical growth and helping them identify and eradicate trouble spots, Bharat has rightfully earned the nickname: ‘Achiever’ Send him Bouquets or Brickbats, Bharat loves it all!

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