Graham Andrewartha | Director | MCA group

Conflict and negotiation management

The situation was tense – two leaders, each with a different point of view were disrupting the whole team. Arguments had arisen and their expectations diverged, leading to a breakdown in their work relationship. The CEO engaged us to handle the problem.  Our approach involved meeting with each leader alone before any joint sessions were arranged. We were able to provide an external perspective and could reframe  the different positions.  We enabled them to keep their emotions in check, and refocus on shared goals.  By establishing some  common ground they were able to form an innovative agreement which satisfied both of their needs.

Conflict management skills are essential for all managers to possess in order to be successful. And yet it is a difficult and complex leadership skill. Whether it is managing departmental disputes, resolving customer grievances, or working out a deal between two competing companies, the ability to manage conflict and negotiate effectively is an invaluable asset for any manager. Conflict can arise from a number of sources, including differences in values, goals, or perspectives; inadequate resources; and personality clashes. (see Andrewartha and Carlopio Developing management skills Chapter 7 )

Conflict and Negotiation resolution is like a puzzle; there are many pieces that need to fit together in order for the situation to be resolved.

If you are ready to check out our approach to this now:  Call or email us on 1300 856 480 or

Definition of Conflict

In essence, conflict is a disagreement between two or more parties over something of value. The source of the disagreement may be tangible (such as money, equipment, or time) or intangible (such as pride, power, and control).

The dispute may be resolved by negotiation, compromise, or force. Conflict may be as simple as two people disagreeing over who gets to use the copier first or as profound as a downsizing or mergers, with serious repercussions for the entire organisation.

Negotiation is the art of reaching a win-win outcome for both parties, without the need for confrontation or hard feelings. It’s about respecting each other’s needs and values. It’s about listening to one another and keeping an open mind. It builds trust and an ongoing relationship.  Negotiation and conflict resolution strategies can help improve relationships and make sure everyone involved is satisfied with the outcome.

Strategies for Managing Conflict

The ability to navigate conflict and negotiate solutions is essential for interpersonal relationships, team performance and business contracts. With the right knowledge and skills, most leaders can learn how to manage conflict in a productive way that will benefit all parties involved. In messy conflict situations an outside expert can be great option.

Most importantly, you must have the right attitude about what you are doing. Conflicts in relationships often involve the emotions, so it is important to learn how to manage those emotions (and your own) and stay focused on achieving a positive outcome for everyone involved.  A common error is to leave it too long before engaging in a proper conflict resolution process. After just a week or two, positions have hardened, strong emotions have grown and biases have become cemented.

The cost of conflict, including the costs of litigation, can be great. And yet most people are reluctant to resolve their disputes because they don’t know how to do it. In an attempt to avoid a litigious solution, many people resort to simplistic negotiation and mediation instead. These methods often fail to address the root of the conflict and do not provide a lasting solution. And yet many people rely on these processes because they are comfortable and familiar. Many leaders (and HR managers) have a vested interest in the outcome or are too close to the disputants to be seen as impartial.

Taking a proactive approach to conflict resolution is the most effective way of resolving conflicts. It begins with an understanding of how people differ in their perceptions, emotions and behavior, and how this affects their responses during negotiations. The next step is to apply some basic principles to your negotiating style.

Conclusion: Resolution with Respect

Fundamentally, conflict is hard to manage well. Achieving an agreeable outcome for all parties takes a lot of patience and investment of time. This is one common reason for seeking outside expertise.

Many negotiation and conflict resolution outcomes please some of the parties but not everyone. Sometimes several people feel they ‘lost’ more than they gained; occasionally one party moves to another team and later on all are happy; occasionally one party may leave or is encouraged to go.

Skillfully managed, a well run negotiation and conflict resolution process will save you lots of wasted time and money.

    Check out our approach in a free chat-  call or email us on 1300 856 480 or