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Conflict resolution
What do you know about conflict resolution?
What should you know about conflict resolution?
What is Conflict?
What is conflict resolution?
What will happen if you do not manage conflict/conflicts properly?
How should you resolve conflict?
What do you have to do in conflict resolution?
What is expected of community policing in this situation?
How should police resolve conflicts in the state or outside the state?
What should you know about conflict resolution skills?
What are the types of conflict?
What will happen if you do not manage conflict/conflicts properly?
What do you have to do in conflict resolution?
What is expected of community policing in this situation?
How should police resolve conflicts in the state or outside the state?
What questions should state police officers be able to answer and practice answers to?
Why should you resolve conflict?
When should you resolve conflict?
Why was there a need to elaborate on these issues?
Who has the duty to fix such issues?
What should you know about conflict resolution skills?
Do you know any other better conflict resolution skills?
Conflict is Normal: Anticipating Conflicts Likely to Arise in the Workplace
Conflict Styles and Their Consequences
How we Respond to Conflict: Thoughts, Feelings, and Physical Responses
The Role of Perceptions in Conflict
Why do we tend to avoid dealing with Conflict?
Which needs of mine are truly threatened by this conflict?
What are the needs that are most important to be negotiated at this time?
If we are unable or unwilling to negotiate a meaningful agreement, what are my alternatives?
How might these relate to the situation facing the other person(s) involved in this dispute? (Would their analysis be similar or different?
When it really comes down to it, what do I want to happen as a result of this process?
Conflict Glossary

Workplace conflict
Conflict Management

How do you handle conflict?
How do you cope with conflict in the workplace?
Give an instance wherein you had to settle a conflict between two individuals.
Have you faced a situation where you had to work with someone who didn't like you? How did you handle it?
Describe a situation when you got co-workers who dislike each other to work together constructively.
Describe a time when you took accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with the individual(s) involved to explain your actions.
Talk about a time when your performance was less than your supervisor was expecting.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
What is Conflict Prevention?
What is Consensus Building?
What is Convening (or Conflict Assessment)?
What is Facilitation?
What is Mediation?
Do you know any other better conflict resolution skills?
What do you know about conflict resolution?
What should you know about conflict resolution?

Annotation or Definition
Conflict resolution
Conflict resolution research
Collaborative law
Conflict Continuum
Conflict Management
Conflict style inventory
Conflict Resolution Day
Conflict resolution research
Conflict transformation
Cost of conflict
Creative Peacebuilding
Dispute resolution
Healthy and unhealthy ways of managing and resolving conflict
Interpersonal communication
Nonviolent Communication
Peace and conflict studies
Restorative justice
Types of conflict

International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

What is Conflict?
The result of two or more parties (individuals or groups) having, or perceiving to have, incompatible goals and interests and acting upon these differences.

A conflict is a situation that if not diffused properly can lead to further harms.

Conflict does not necessarily lead to negative outcomes and can even be a constructive process of change. Violent conflict, on the other hand, always has negative repercussions. This refers to the actions, attitudes or systems that cause physical, psychological, social or environmental damage. Killing and intimidation are the most visible forms of violent conflict.

Conflict - An uncomfortable internal feeling associated with not getting the things one wants or feeling undecided about what to do in a situation. Conflict is another term for a dispute.

What is conflict resolution?
Conflict resolution is the process of trying to find a solution to a conflict. Ideally conflict resolution is collaborative problem-solving, a cooperative talking-together process that leads to choosing a plan of action that both of you can feel good about.

What will happen if you do not manage conflict/conflicts properly?
Preventable harms can occur to all stakeholders.

How should you resolve conflict?
There are seven steps to successfully negotiating the resolution of a conflict:
1.Understand the conflict
3.Brainstorm possible resolutions
4.Choose the best resolution
5.Use a third party mediator
6.Explore alternatives
7.Cope with stressful situations and pressure tactics
8.Conflict Resolution Techniques
9.Listen, Then Speak Out
10.Be Impartial
11.Do Not Postpone Conflict Resolution
12.Promote Teamwork
13.Seek a Solution
14.Know When Itís Not Working
15.Assert Your Needs Clearly and Specifically
16.Build an Agreement that Works

How to Resolve Conflict Effectively

What do you have to do in conflict resolution?
Understand the issues properly.

Verify with others that you understand the issues properly.

Go through these questions and answers relevant to conflict resolution.

It isn't always possible to avoid conflict, but that doesn't mean it can't be resolved.

Remain calm. As soon as you realize you're in a conflict with someone, suggest that both of you take some time to cool off, then agree on a time and a place to discuss and resolve your conflict.

Make a list of your concerns. Before you meet with the other person, sit down and write out exactly what you think led to the conflict because this might lead to a conflict resolution.

Allow the other person to talk. You will still be able to make all of your points, but make sure to let the other person state his or her concerns as well. Let them talk, even if you disagree, because interrupting will only add to the conflict.

Ask questions. If you don't understand the other person's points, then ask him or her a follow-up question. Make a point to wait until there's a pause in the conversation, so you know the other person has finished stating his or her case and he or she doesn't think you're interrupting.

Be creative. Try to think of as many different solutions to the problem as you can. Both of you should try to think through the conflict before you meet, and then again when you get together and begin your discussion. Allow your discussion to flow in as many different directions as you can, as long as emotions don't get too heated, in order to resolve the conflict effectively.

Take breaks. If you feel like one of you, or both of you, are getting too emotional, feel free to take as many breaks as you both need to. Take as much time as you need as soon as voices are raised -- before anything too hurtful is said.

Stay away from negative talk. Focus on the positive things instead of saying things like, "can't," "don't" or "no." The negative words will only make the conflict harder to resolve.

Be aware of your emotions. If you feel you're getting angry, take a break or figure out a way to calm down. Take a drink of water before you say anything you might regret.

Compromise. In many conflicts, no one person is completely wrong, so try and find a compromise that you can both be happy with.

Find something you can agree on. There might be a conflict that is just not possible to resolve in 1 discussion. Think of something to do with the conflict that you both can agree on, and agree to come back to the topic later. It may take more than 1 discussion to resolve the conflict effectively.

What is expected of community policing in this situation?
Report the location or situation to conflict resolution expert/experts from community police.

How should police resolve conflicts in the state or outside the state?
There should be human rights education to all stakeholders or those party to conflict.
Make sure no one is harmed due to retaliation, or escalation of conflict.

What should you know about conflict resolution skills?


Active Listening

Active listening is a way of listening that focuses entirely on what the other person is saying and confirms understanding of both the content of the message and the emotions and feelings underlying the message to ensure that understanding is accurate.


Adversarial Approach

The adversarial approach to a conflict sees the other party or parties as an enemy to be defeated. It can be compared to the problem-solving approach which views the other party or parties as people who have a common problem that needs to be jointly solved. The adversarial approach typically leads to competitive confrontation strategies, while the problem-solving approach leads to cooperative or integrative strategies for approaching the conflict situation.


Adversaries are people who oppose each other in a conflict. They are also called opponents, parties, or disputants.

Affirming environment

A positive, respectful atmosphere in which to communicate.

Aggressiveness - Attempting to get your own way in a dispute by putting physical or verbal pressure on the other person.

Assertive communication

The sharing of one's needs and concerns, while respecting the needs of other persons involved.

Talking calmly and firmly about your interests and what you want to happen in an effort to communicate effectively with others.


A conflict style in which disagreements and concerns go unexpressed, often making the circumvented conflict worse.

Avoiding a problem by walking away, ignoring what is happening, refusing to participate in a conflict situation.


Advocacy is the process of taking and working for a particular side=s interests in a conflict. Lawyers engage in advocacy when they represent a client in a legal proceeding. Disputants can also engage in advocacy themselves--arguing for their own position in negotiation, mediation, or a political debate. Any attempt to persuade another side to agree to your demands is advocacy.

Analytical Problem Solving

This is an approach to deep-rooted or intractable conflicts that brings disputants together to analyze the underlying human needs that cause their conflict, and then helping them work together to develop ways to provide the necessary needs to resolve the problem.


Arbitration is a method of resolving a dispute in which the disputants present their case to an impartial third party, who then makes a decision for them which resolves the conflict. This decision is usually binding. Arbitration differs from mediation in which third party simply helps the disputants develop a solution on their own.

Arms Race

An arms race occurs whenever two adversaries race each other to make sure that each has at least as many armaments as the other. This typically leads to an escalation spiral with each side building and/or acquiring more and more weapons in an effort to stay ahead of the enemy.


This is a variation of Fisher and Ury's concept of BATNA--which stands for best alternative to a negotiated agreement. We use "ATNA" to refer to any alternative to a negotiated agreement, not just the best one.


Backlash is a negative response to an action. When someone or a group is forced to do something against their will they will often resist or try to get back at the person or group who forced them in the first place. This can result in a reversal of an apparently resolved situation, and may even escalate the conflict further.

Behavioral responses

Actions in reaction to conflict, such as yelling, walking out, withdrawal, or negotiating.


BATNA is a term invented by Roger Fisher and William Ury which stands for "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." Any negotiator should determine his or her BATNA before agreeing to any negotiated settlement. If the settlement is as good as or better than one's BATNA, the agreement should be accepted. If the alternative is better, it should be pursued instead of the negotiated settlement. When one party's BATNA is good (or even if they just think it is good), they are unlikely to be willing to enter into negotiations, preferring instead to pursue their alternative option.

Breath down - Taking deep, slow breaths as a way to calm down and manage strong emotions.


A private meeting outside of a larger group; in mediation, it is a meeting with each party separately.


Co-existence means living together peacefully in the same geographical area.

Common Ground/Commonalties

Common ground or commonalties refers to the things two people or groups share, or hold in common. These may include living in the same place, having similar values, interests, or needs, or even similar experiences or fears. Although disputants often assume they have nothing in common with their opponents, they almost always have some common ground--even if it is only a common desire to live in peace and security without having to fear the other.

Communication Channels

Communication channels are the means available to communicate with another person or group. They may include direct face-to-face communication, telecommunications (telephone, e-mail, written communications), or indirect communication--through third parties or the media, for example.

Community Organizing

Community organizing is a process through which an expert helps a group of individuals engage in collective action to address a social problem. Community organizers help people work together to get what they want or need: they may help people work together to get more jobs in a community; they may help people fight an unfair government law or ruling; or they may help people work together to force a polluter to clean up their industrial process so it no longer pollutes the environment as badly.

Competition/Competitive Approach
See adversarial approach

Competition/ competitive approach - One side attempts to win and have the other side lose.

Complicating Factors

Conflict complicating factors are dynamics such as communication problems or escalation which, while common, are usually extraneous parts of the conflict which confuse the core issues in the conflict and make them more difficult to understand and deal with.


A solution to a mutual problem that meets some, but not all, of each of the parties' interests.

Cognitive responses

Thoughts and ideas about a conflict, often present as "inner voices" and sub-vocalizations.


The pooling of individual needs and goals towards a common goal; a conflict style that often produces a better solution than any individual party could achieve alone; the integration of separate interests.


A conflict style in which one's own needs overwhelm the needs of others; often characterized by aggressive communication; tends to result in conflict escalation.


A conflict style involving tradeoffs, resulting in some sense of satisfaction, but no real exploration of the underlying needs of the disputing parties. Conflict styles: Varying approaches of behaving during conflict


The result of two or more parties (individuals or groups) having, or perceiving to have, incompatible goals and interests and acting upon these differences.

Conflict does not necessarily lead to negative outcomes and can even be a constructive process of change. Violent conflict, on the other hand, always has negative repercussions. This refers to the actions, attitudes or systems that cause physical, psychological, social or environmental damage. Killing and intimidation are the most visible forms of violent conflict.

Conflict - An uncomfortable internal feeling associated with not getting the things one wants or feeling undecided about what to do in a situation. Conflict is another term for a dispute.


The protection, management and sustainable use of plants, animals and ecosystems.

Conflict-sensitive conservation

Conservation programming and implementation that takes into account the causes, actors and impacts of conflict in order to minimize conflict risks and maximize peace-building opportunities.


A situation (or decision) in which all members of a group find an outcome to be acceptable; most valued when members of the group perceive it to be genuinely "safe" to express dissent.


Concessions are things one side gives up to try to de-escalate or resolve a conflict. They may simply be points in an argument, a reduction in demands, or a softening of one side's position.


Conciliation involves efforts by a third party to improve the relationship between two or more disputants. It may be done as a part of mediation, or independently. Generally, the third party will work with the disputants to correct misunderstandings, reduce fear and distrust, and generally improve communication between the parties in conflict. Sometimes this alone will result in dispute settlement; at other times, it paves the way for a later mediation process.

Conflict Management

This term refers to the long-term management of intractable conflicts and the people involved in them so that they do not escalate out of control and become violent.

Conflict Resolution

This term (along with dispute resolution) usually refers to the process of resolving a dispute or a conflict permanently, by providing each sides' needs, and adequately addressing their interests so that they are satisfied with the outcome.

Conflict Transformation

This term is being used more and more to refer to a change (usually an improvement) in the nature of a conflict--a de-escalation or a reconciliation between people or groups. Unlike conflict resolution, which denies the long-term nature of conflict, or conflict management, which assumes that people and relationships can be managed as though they were physical objects, the concept of conflict transformation reflects the notion that conflicts go on for long periods of time, changing the nature of the relationships between the people involved, and themselves changing as people's response to the situation develops over time.

Conflicts of Interest

This term refers to the situation in which a person has a vested interest in the outcome of a decision, but tries to influence the decision making process as if they did not. In other words, they stand to benefit from a decision if it goes a particular way, but they participate in the decision making process as if they were neutral. An example would be an expert from the tobacco industry testifying that tobacco is safe and does not cause cancer. If he argued this on the basis of scientific merits, rather than his connection to the tobacco industry, he could be charged with having a conflict of interest which altered his position on tobacco research.


Consensus decision making requires that everyone agrees with a decision; not just a majority as occurs in majority-rule processes. In consensus-based processes, people must work together to develop an agreement that is good enough (though not necessarily perfect) that all of the people at the table are willing to agree to it.


Constituents or one's constituency refers to the people a decision maker represents. The constituents of a governmental leader are the citizens he or she represents in Parliament or other legislative body. The constituents of a negotiator are the people he or she is negotiating for; members of a union, perhaps, or of an interest group or business.

Constructive Conflict/Confrontation

We use the term "constructive" to refer to a conflict which has more benefits than costs--one that pulls people together, strengthens and/or improves their relationship (by redefining it in a more appropriate or useful way) and one that leads to positive change in all of the parties involved. It is contrasted with destructive conflict which has largely negative results--pushing people apart, destroying relationships, and leading to negative changes including an escalation of violence, fear, and distrust.

Cooperation/Cooperative Approach

In cooperation, disputants work together to solve a mutual problem. According to Morton Deutsch, (Resolution of Conflict, 1973) a cooperative situation is one in which the goals of the participants are so linked that any participant can attain his goal if, and only if, the others with whom he is linked can attain their goals. It is contrasted with a competitive approach in which it is assumed that it is impossible to win, unless the other side loses.

Cooperation/cooperative approach- In cooperation, people involved in a dispute work together to solve a problem.

Core Issues

We distinguish between core issues in a conflict, which are the fundamental interests, values, and needs which are in conflict with each other, and complicating factors, which are dynamics such as communication problems or escalation which, while common, are usually extraneous parts of the conflict which confuse the core issues and make them more difficult to understand and deal with.


Costing is the process of assessing the costs and benefits of a particular action; not only in monetary terms, but in terms of time, resources, emotional energy, and other intangible effects on people's lives.


Credibility refers to whether or not a person or a statement is believed or trusted. Sometimes leaders or expert witnesses are not considered by the public to be credible because they have a personal interest in the outcome of a situation or a conflict which would likely influence their views and/or statements about that situation or conflict.

Decision making process

The decision making process is the process that is used to make a decision. It can be an expert process, where the decision is made by one or more "experts" who look at the "facts" and make the decision based on those facts; it can be a political process through which a political representative or body makes the decision based on political considerations, or it might be a judicial process where a judge or a jury makes a decision based on an examination of legal evidence and the law.


De-escalation is the opposite of escalation. It is the ratcheting down of the intensity of a conflict which occurs as parties tire out, or begin to realize that the conflict is doing them more harm than good. They then may begin to make concessions, or reduce the intensity of their attacks, moving slowly toward an eventual negotiated resolution.

De-escalation - De-escalation means toning down the intensity of the conflict or dispute so that a solution becomes more likely. The angrier people are at each other, the less likely a solution will be reached. The parties can de-escalate the conflict by using good communication skills. De-escalation may also occur when the parties get tired of fighting, or when they realize that keeping the conflict going is doing them more harm than good.


This is the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment.

Destructive Conflict/Confrontation

Destructive conflict and confrontation has largely negative results--it pushes people apart, destroys relationships, and leads to a host of negative personal and social changes including an escalation of violence, fear, and distrust. It is contrasted with constructive conflict and confrontation which has more benefits than costs--one that pulls people together, strengthens and/or improves their relationship (by redefining it in a more appropriate or useful way) and one that leads to positive change in all of the parties involved.


Dialogue is a process for sharing and learning about another group's beliefs, feelings, interests, and/or needs in a non-adversarial, open way, usually with the help of a third party facilitator. Unlike mediation, in which the goal is usually reaching a resolution or settlement of a dispute, the goal of dialogue is usually simply improving interpersonal understanding and trust.

Dialogue - A dialogue is an open, honest discussion between or among the parties in a dispute. In a dialogue, the parties learn about the other group's feelings, beliefs, interests and needs, without trying to "win" over the other side. It often helps to have a third party to facilitate the dialogue so that everyone has an equal chance to share his or her views.

Dictatorial Process

This term refers to authoritarian decision making processes in which one person (or a small group of people) make arbitrary decisions, supposedly on behalf of their people, but without any meaningful input from the people, nor any institutionalized process for reversing the decision if it is disliked by a majority of the people it affects. It is the opposite of democratic decision making processes, in which duly elected or appointed representatives or decision makers make decisions based on public input on behalf of their constituencies.


Generally, diplomacy refers to the interaction between two or more nation-states. Traditionally carried out by government officials, who negotiate treaties, trade policies, and other international agreements, the term has been extended to include unofficial exchanges of private citizens (such as cultural, scientific, and religious exchanges) as well as unofficial (sometimes called "citizen" or "track-two") diplomacy in which private citizens actually try to develop solutions to international diplomatic problems.

Disarming Strategies

Disarming strategies are actions that are designed to break down or challenge negative stereotypes. If one person or group is seen by another as extremely threatening and hostile, a gesture of friendship and goodwill is a disarming move, which will alter perceptions of the other and can significantly de-escalate the conflict.

Dispute - The arguments, disagreements and fights that take place between people who are experiencing a conflict.


Disputants are the people, groups, or organizations who are in conflict with each other. They are often also called "parties." (Third parties, however, are not disputants, but rather people who intercede to try to help the disputants resolve the dispute.)

Disputants - Disputants are the people, groups or organizations that are in conflict with each other. They are often called "parties." (A "third party" may be a facilitator or mediator, who helps resolve the dispute).

Dispute Resolution

See Conflict Resolution

Domination Conflicts

These are conflicts over placement in the social hierarchy-who has more status and power in a society, and who has less.


In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality.

Emotion - Emotion is another word for feelings. Some common emotions are anger, fear, love, sadness, grief, jealousy, hurt, disappointment and joy. We may have these feelings or emotions in response to things that are going on at the moment or when we remember something that happened in the past. Frequently, we also experience physiological changes, such as feeling hot, having our heart beat faster, changes in our breathing, knotting in our stomachs, etc. when we feel an emotion. It is important to separate emotions from the actions we take when we feel something. For example, some people shout or hit when they feel angry. With practice, we can learn to think about what we are feeling and then decide how we want to act.

Empowerment -To "empower" means to give a person or group more power. A person can empower himself through education and training, or by getting others to take his or her side. Often a mediator will empower the weaker person or group by helping them represent themselves more effectively. When both sides are equal in power it is more likely that a fair settlement of the dispute will be reached.

Escalation - Escalation is an increase in the intensity of a conflict. When a conflict escalates, the people involved (disputants) move from gently opposing positions to more forceful, confrontational tactics. The number of parties involved may increase, and the number of issues under discussion may grow. Also, when a dispute escalates, the parties may want more than just to win-they may also want to hurt their opponent. Conflict can escalate quickly but may take much longer to calm down, or de-escalate.

Emotional responses

Feelings curing a conflict, such as anger, fear, confusion, or elation; often contribute to behavioral and physical responses.


The ability to put oneself in another person's position and understand that point of view.

Expertise power

The power accumulated from developing great technical knowledge regarding a particular role or set of challenges


This is a variation of Fisher and Ury's concept of BATNA--which stands for best alternative to a negotiated agreement. We use "EATNA" to refer to one's estimated alternative to a negotiated agreement,--meaning what you think you can get, which may be different from what you really can get if you use a power strategy other than negotiation to pursue your goals.


Emotions are psychological feelings that people have that usually result from--and contribute to--a conflict. Examples are anger, shame, fear, distrust, and a sense of powerlessness. If emotions are effectively managed, they can become a resource for effective conflict resolution. If they are not effectively managed, however, they can intensify a conflict, heightening tensions and making the situation more difficult to resolve.


Empowerment means giving a person or group more power. This may be done by the party alone, through education, coalition building, community organizing, resource development, or advocacy assistance. It can also be done by a mediator, who can work with the lower power person or group to help them represent themselves more effectively. Although this approach causes ethical dilemmas (since helping one side more than another compromises a mediator's impartiality), it is quite commonly done in the problem-solving or "settlement- oriented" approach to mediation, since this approach works best when the two parties are relatively equal in power. Baruch Bush and Joe Folger, however, advocate the empowerment of both parties simultaneously through transformative mediation, which seeks to restore disputants' "sense of their own value and strength and their own capacity to handle life's problems." This approach avoids the ethical dilemmas of one-sided empowerment, though it sacrifices emphasis on achieving a settlement as primary.


Escalation is an increase in intensity of a conflict. According to Dean Pruitt and Jeffery Rubin (1986, 7-8), as a conflict escalates, the disputants change from relatively gentle opposition to heavier, more confrontational tactics. The number of parties tends to increase, as do the number of issues, and the breadth of the issues (that is, issues change from ones which are very specific to more global concerns). Lastly disputants change from not only wanting to win themselves, but also wanting to hurt the opponent. While conflicts escalate quickly and easily, de-escalation, a diminishing of intensity, is often much harder to achieve.


Extremists are people who take extreme views--those which are much stronger, and often more fixed than other people's views of the same situation. In escalated conflicts, extremists may advocate violent responses, while more moderate disputants will advocate less extreme measures.

Face Saving

"Face" refers to one's image, both to oneself and to others. A face-saving approach is an approach that does not damage one's own or the other side's image--it does not make oneself or the other side appear weak, inept, or otherwise as a failure, but makes them look like they are wise and victorious, even when they are not. By allowing all disputants to save face, a negotiated settlement is much more likely to be reached.

Face-saving - One's "face" is one's public image. When we save face, we avoid making ourselves or others appear foolish or weak. Instead, we find ways to let others appear strong and victorious, even if they are not. People are often concerned that they will "lose face" if they lose in a dispute. If we can ensure that all the parties will save face, an agreement is more likely to be reached.


Facilitation is done by a third party who assists in running consensus-building meetings. The facilitator typically helps the parties set ground rules and agendas, enforces both, and helps the participants keep on track and working toward their mutual goals. While similar to a mediator, a facilitator usually plays a less active role in the deliberations, and often does not see "resolution" as a goal of his or her work, as mediators usually do.

Facilitation - A facilitator is a third party who helps the disputants to stay focused on working toward their common goals by following the agreed-upon ground rules. The facilitator takes a less active role in helping the parties find a solution than the mediator would.


One who makes the process easy; a person empowered by the group to manage a group process (e.g., a meeting).

Fact-based disputes

Fact-based disputes are disputes about what has occurred or is occurring. Such disputes can be generated from misunderstandings or inaccurate rumors (when someone is accused of doing something they did not actually do). Facts-based disputes can also be generated by differing perceptions or judgements about what has occurred or is now occurring. For example, a dispute over the level of threat caused by the ozone hole or the greenhouse effect is a "facts-based dispute," even though all the scientific facts are not readily discernable or agreed to.

Fact-based disputes -These are disputes about what has happened or is now happening, and the goal is getting the facts to be understood by all parties. They may also have to do with different opinions about something that has happened or is happening, even if all the facts are not available.


We use the term "force" to refer to any situation when one disputant is made to do something against their will through threat. In Kenneth Boulding's terms, force is used when people are told to "do something that I want, or else I will do something that you don't want." Force does not need to be violent. It can simply be a coercive statement that says that if you do not comply with my demand, I will fire you from your job, or I will stage a hunger strike, or I will organize a work slow-down nor do anything else that is likely to harm the opponent in some significant way.

Force - Force refers to any situation where one party is made to do something they don't want to do because they are threatened with some negative action if they don't do it. Force may be violent, but it can also be a threat to lose one's job or get a bad grade or any other action that is likely to hurt the opponent.

Forcing Power Shortcuts

Forcing Power Shortcuts are ways to measure relative power without having a protracted (and destructive) power struggle. For example, polls can measure public opinion without having to have a full vote on an issue. Shortened alternative dispute resolution procedures such as arbitration or mini-trials can be used to replace costly litigation. Even wars can be avoided by measuring relative military strength and then making an assessment of which side would be likely to win. If both sides agree (at least approximately) on the likely outcome, then a negotiated solution can be worked out which is consistent with that outcome, avoiding the high costs of the protracted struggle.


Frames are ways of defining a problem. Some people may define a problem in terms of rights, while others may define it in terms of interests or relative power. These different positions are sometimes referred to as different "frames."


Framing is the process of defining what a problem is about. Just as a frame can be placed around a photograph, including some portions of the picture, but cropping other portions out, people can define some aspects of a problem as important, while they ignore (or are unaware of) other issues that do not concern them.

GRIT (Gradual Reduction in Tension)

This is a term invented by Charles Osgood to refer to a gradual de-escalation process, in which one side makes a unilateral, minor concession in the hopes that the other side will then be encouraged to do the same. This is then followed by a second concession, which hopefully is matched, and a de-escalation process then continues with matched concessions and disarming moves.

Ground rules

The rules of conduct that govern the interactions of group members; expectations regarding interpersonal behavior.

Hard bargaining

This is a term used to refer to adversarial, competitive bargaining that assumes that the opponent is an enemy to be defeated, rather than a partner to be worked with cooperatively. Fisher and Ury contrast hard bargaining with soft bargaining (which is highly conciliatory to the point of giving in on important points). They contrast both these approaches with a third approach, principled negotiation, which is neither hard, nor soft, but rather integrative in its approach.

Hard approach - Use of physical or verbal aggression to resolve a dispute. See power for additional information.

Human needs

Human needs are things that all humans need for normal growth and development. First identified by psychologist Abraham Maslow, human needs go beyond the obvious physical needs of food and shelter to include psychological needs such as security, love, a sense of identity, self-esteem, and the ability to achieve one=s goals. Some conflict theorists--referred to as "human needs theorists" argue that the most difficult and intense conflicts, such as racial and ethnic conflicts, are caused by the denial of one or both groups' fundamental human needs: the need for identity, security, and/or recognition. In order to resolve such conflicts, ways must be found to provide these needs for all individuals and groups without compromise--as human needs "are not for trading."


Identity refers to the way people see themselves--the groups they feel a part of, the significant aspects of themselves that they use to describe themselves to others. Some theorists distinguish between collective identity, social identity, and personal identity. However, all related in one way or another to a description of who one is, and how one fits into his social groups and society over all.

Identity - Our identity is the way we see ourselves. It includes such things as our gender, age, nationality, the way we dress, the way we describe ourselves to others, the way we privately think about who we are, and the groups or friends with whom we associate.

Interest-based approach - This type of dispute resolution looks at problems in terms of interests, not positions, and works to get the parties to understand one another's interests so everyone is satisfied that their needs have been met.

Interests - Interests is a word we use to describe the feelings people have about their lives, and the reason why they take a certain position. For example, a person may take the position that he will shout back when someone shouts at him, but his interest is to have people talk quietly and respectfully to him. If parties can agree that their interests are compatible they can often reach an agreement, even when their positions are very different.

Intolerance - Intolerance is an unwillingness to accept other people or groups who are different from one's own. When we are intolerant we may want to get rid of the other person, group or idea, or we may just treat them as if they were less valuable or less important than we are. Racial discrimination and prejudice are forms of intolerance.

I-statements and You-Statements - An I-statement expresses a feeling or a point of view that a person has. A You-Statement attacks or blames another person for causing a problem or doing something wrong. I-Statements are important ways to communicate in a dispute, because You-Statements often cause hostility and make resolution more difficult to reach.

Identity Conflicts

Identity conflicts are conflicts that develop when a person or group feels that their sense of self--who one is--is threatened or denied legitimacy or respect. Religious, ethnic, and racial conflicts are examples of identity conflicts.


This refers to the attitude of the third party. An impartial third party will not prefer one side or one side's position to another side's position, but will approach them both as equally valid. In principle, this objective can be hard to achieve, although a third party can make an active effort to treat each side the same, even if he or she tends to prefer one party or one party's argument over the other. "I"-message

A technique for expressing one's feelings assertively, without evaluating or blaming others; "I"-messages connect a feeling statement with the specific behaviors of another person and the consequences of those feelings and behaviors.


A point at which conflicting parties feel "stuck" and no longer able to find effective solutions; often a normal phase of the conflict resolution process.

Incompatible interests

Incompatible interests are things that people want that cannot be simultaneously achieved. If a community has a limited budget to spend on public services, for example, and each of four agencies (the police, the schools, the hospital, and the roads department, for instance) all need a budget increase to even maintain current services, these departments have incompatible interests--not all of their funding requests can be met simultaneously.

Integrative Power and the Integrative System

Integrative power is the power of social ties and the power of identity--the power of the integrative system (the system of social bonds that hold people together in groups.) Although seldom considered a source of power, Kenneth Boulding argued that integrative power is the strongest form of power because all others depend on the integrative system in order to work.

Interest-Based Problem Solving

Interest-based problem solving defines problems in terms of interests (not positions--see immediately below) and works to reconcile the interests to obtain a mutually-satisfactory solution.

Interest groups

Interest groups are advocacy groups--groups of people who join together to work for a common cause. Environmental groups, groups defending human rights, and groups working for social causes are all interest groups.


Interests are the underlying desires and concerns that motivate people to take a position. While their position is what they say they want, such as "I want to build my house here!", their interests are the reasons why they take that position (because I want a quiet lot with a good view of the city). Often parties' interests are compatible, and hence negotiable, even when their positions seem to be in complete opposition.


Intolerance is the unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of another person, group, or idea that differs from one's own. It may result in an effort to get rid of the "objectionable" person or idea, or it may simply result in treating them in a subservient way, as occurs when people of certain racial or ethnic groups are discriminated against by the dominant group in a society.

Intractable Conflicts

We use this term to refer to conflicts that go on for a long time, resisting most (if not all) attempts to resolve them. Typically they involve fundamental value disagreements, high stakes distributional questions, domination issues, and/or denied human needs--all of which are non-negotiable problems. They often involve unavoidable win-lose situations as well.

I-Statements and You-Statements

"I statements" state the way someone feels about a situation, while "you statements" are accusations that another person did something wrong. By statement problems in terms of one's own feelings (using I statements) instead of accusing the other person of causing the problem (as occurs with you-statements) defensiveness and hostility can be minimized and the chances of resolution improved.

Joint Fact-Finding

Joint fact finding is a process in which two or more disputants work together to clarify disputed facts in a conflict--for example, they might cooperate on a scientific study of environmental impacts of a proposed project, or on an inquiry into the extent of human rights abuses during or after a war.

Joint fact finding - In joint fact finding, two or more disputants work together to discover the facts about a situation. This helps to clarify the disputed facts and makes resolution more likely.


Legitimacy refers to the perceived fairness of a dispute resolution process. For example, fair elections or litigation based on socially-accepted laws are generally considered legitimate, as are the decisions that result from such processes. On the other hand, elections where voters are harassed or forced to vote a particular way are usually considered illegitimate, as are court decisions handed down by biased courts. Legitimacy of decision making procedures is important, because illegitimate procedures almost always escalate conflicts, making their ultimate resolution more difficult.

Legitimacy - Legitimacy means that a dispute resolution process is fair, legal and impartial. If there is bias, or if any laws or ethical practices are not followed, the dispute resolution process becomes illegitimate. Doubt by any of the parties as to the legitimacy of the process will usually escalate conflict and make resolution more difficult to reach.

Lose-Lose Situations

Game theory makes a distinction between positive-sum situations (often called "games,") which everyone can win (also referred to as "win-win"), negative sum games in which all sides lose (also referred to as "lose-lose") and zero-sum games in which one side wins only if another side loses.

Lose-Lose situations - In a Lose-Lose situation, all sides in a dispute lose; that is, the dispute is not resolved to anyone's satisfaction. This is opposed to a win-win situation, in which all parties benefit from the resolution.


Mediation is a method of conflict resolution that is carried out by an intermediary who works with the disputing parties to help them improve their communication and their analysis of the conflict situation, so that the parties can themselves identify and choose an option for resolving the conflict that meets the interests or needs of all of the disputants. Unlike arbitration, where the intermediary listens to the arguments of both sides and makes a decision for the disputants, a mediator will help the disputants design a solution themselves.

Mediation - In mediation, a third party works with the disputing parties to help them find resolution to their conflict. The mediator may help them communicate more effectively, analyze the facts of the situation and discuss it fairly and openly, in the hope that the disputants will then find their own solution to the conflict. This is different from arbitration, where the arbitrator makes a decision for the disputants.


Most Likely Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement


An impartial third party who facilitates the resolution of conflict between two or more parties.


Parties to a dispute who tend to be able to see valid aspects of each perspective and have greater flexibility about potential definitions of the negotiating space; often will be reluctant to express views in a multi-party dispute.

Multi-party disputes

Conflicts involving more than two identifiable parties or factions.

Multi-track diplomacy

This term has been developed recently to reflect the idea that international exchanges can take many forms beyond official negotiations between diplomats. Examples of multi-track diplomacy include official and unofficial conflict resolution efforts, citizen and scientific exchanges, international business negotiations, international cultural and athletic activities and other international contacts and cooperative efforts.


Psychologist Abraham Maslow suggested that all people are driven to attain certain biological and psychological requirements, which he called fundamental human "needs." Several conflict theorists, for instance John Burton and Herbert Kelman, have applied this idea to conflict theory, suggesting that the needs for security, identity, and recognition underlie most deep-rooted and protracted conflicts. Most ethnic and racial conflicts, they argue, for instance, are not interest-based conflicts (and hence cannot be negotiated), but are driven by the subordinate group's need for these fundamental needs. Only by restructuring the society so that all groups' fundamental needs are met can needs conflicts be resolved.

Needs - We all have basic human physical and psychological needs. These include the need to feel secure, to have a strong sense of personal identity and to be recognized and validated by others. A conflict may involve a demand to meet the human needs of an individual or group. Meeting these needs makes successful resolution of the dispute more likely.

Negotiation - When two or more parties in a dispute discuss a problem intending to find a solution that is acceptable to all, they are negotiating. Negotiation can be friendly and cooperative, with both sides seeking a mutually beneficial solution (called "win-win", Interest-based or cooperative bargaining), or it can be competitive (called "win-lose", "Lose-Lose" or adversarial bargaining) where one side tries to prevail over the other.

Neutrality - Neutrality means that a third party does not have a connection or previous relationship with any of the parties in the dispute. Neutrality insures that the third party will not be prejudiced toward any of the parties in the dispute by virtue of knowing them currently or in the past. Many mediation programs use a neutral mediator.

Negative-Sum Situations or Games

Game theory makes a distinction between positive-sum situations (often called "games,") which everyone can win (also referred to as "win-win"), negative sum games in which all sides lose (also referred to as "lose-lose") and zero-sum games in which one side wins only if another side loses.


Negotiation is bargaining--it is the process of discussion and give-and-take between two or more disputants who seek to find a solution to a common problem. Negotiation occurs between people all the time--between parents and children, between husbands and wives, between workers and employers, between nations. It can be relatively cooperative, as it is when both sides seek a solution that is mutually beneficial (commonly called win-win or cooperative bargaining), or it can be confrontational (commonly called win-lose or adversarial) bargaining, when each side seeks to prevail over the other.

Negotiation Loopbacks

This term refers to the return to negotiation after rights-based and power-based processes are used to clarify respective rights and relative levels of power. These tests of rights and power determine the parties best alternatives to a negotiated agreement (their "BATNA"s). Once these are known, the parties can "loopback" to negotiation to avoid a protracted and costly struggle, while usually obtaining the same result. Neutrality This term means that a third party is not connected to or had a prior relationship with any of the disputants.

Nonviolent direct action/nonviolent struggle

Nonviolent direct action is action, usually undertaken by a group of people, to persuade someone else to change their behavior. Examples include strikes, boycotts, marches, and demonstrations--social, economic, or political acts that are intended to persuade an opponent to change its policies. While not violent initially, nonviolent direct action can provoke a violent response. Thus, forcing someone to do something at gunpoint would not be nonviolent direct action, but if demonstrators are forced to retreat by police using or threatening to use weapons, the initial action is still considered to be nonviolent.

Normative power

The power that accrues to those who know "the lay of the land" in a given group, and how to get things done; power coming from familiarity with cultural norms

Opening Statement

In a facilitated meeting, the introduction given by the facilitator to set the tone for the meeting, establish ground rules, and clarify the process.

Overlay Problems

In past writing, we have used the term "overlay problems" the same way we use "complicating problems" in this material. Both terms refer to dynamics such as communication problems or escalation which, while common, are usually extraneous parts of the conflict which confuse the core issues and make them more difficult to understand and deal with.

Parties The parties are the people who are involved in the dispute. Most parties are disputants--the people who are in conflict with each other. Other parties--often called "third parties,"--are parties that intervene in the dispute to try to help the disputants resolve it. Mediators and judges, for example, are third parties.

Parties - The parties are the people or groups that are involved in the dispute. "Third parties" are people who are not involved in the dispute but who help resolve it. Mediators, facilitators and judges are "third parties" in a dispute.

Peace Building -The process of resolving disputes involves peace building, which is restoring the normal, cooperative relationship that existed before the dispute. Peace building often involves replacing the conflict with mutual understanding and forgiveness on both sides.

Personal Power - Personal power is the term we use to express an individual's ability to accomplish goals and to meet his/her own needs in healthy ways. We can feel personally powerful when we experience an emotion, but then think carefully about the way we want to act so we will feel proud of our actions. Making good choices on a regular basis can increase our feeling of personal power.

Persuasion - Persuasion means convincing another person or group to change their mind or their behavior. Usually, persuasion is done without pressure (coercion), but by using rational and emotional arguments to help another party "see" matters in a different way.

Positions - Each party in a dispute takes a position: this is their stated demand for what they want from the other party. Positions are different from "interests," which are the party's deeper needs and wants ( why one wants something). Sometimes positions may be opposed to each other, but underlying interests may be compatible. In such cases, the compatible interests may be used as a way to resolve the dispute.

Power - Power is the ability to get what you want out of a situation. Power may be achieved through force ("power over") or through cooperation ("power with"). When you hear about a power approach to a dispute, it means "power over", or using verbal or physically aggressive means to gain control of the situation or the person who disagrees with you.

Principled negotiation - This refers to certain basic principles of negotiation which include: 1) focusing on the problem, rather than the people involved 2) seeking to reconcile compatible interests rather than opposing positions, 3) finding ways that all parties can benefit ("win-win"), and 4) using clear criteria to judge whether the proposed resolution of the dispute is fair to all parties.

Problem solving approach - When the disputants work together cooperatively to solve a problem, they are using the problem solving approach. The opposite of the problem solving approach is the adversarial approach, in which the other party is seen as the enemy, to be defeated.


Peace, in its most basic form, is seen as the absence of violent conflict. In our view, however, it is more than this. It is a state of balance characterized by core values such as social justice, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.


The process of achieving peace by addressing the systems and attitudes that cause conflict, as well as the resulting grievances and injustices. It is this process that the CSC Manual aims to promote through conservation interventions.

Peace Building

Peace building is the process of restoring normal relations between people. It requires the reconciliation of differences, apology and forgiveness of past harm, and the establishment of a cooperative relationship between groups, replacing the adversarial or competitive relationship that used to exist.


Peacekeeping is the prevention or ending of violence within or between nation-states through the intervention of an outside third party that keeps the warring parties apart. Unlike peacemaking, which involves negotiating a resolution to the issues in conflict, the goal of peacekeeping is simply preventing further violence.


Peacemaking is the term often used to refer to negotiating the resolution of a conflict between people, groups, or nations. It goes beyond peacekeeping to actually deal with the issues in dispute, but falls short of peace building, which aims toward reconciliation and normalization of relations between ordinary people, not just the formal resolution which is written on paper.


Persuasion involves convincing another party to change their attitude and/or their behavior. Although this can be done through coercion, we generally use the term "persuasion" in a more positive sense--to refer to emotional or rational appeals based on common values and understandings.

Physical responses

Bodily reactions to conflict, such as muscle tension, sweating, and dry mouth; often interact behavioral and emotional responses.


The intervention of a concerned third party encourage participation in the negotiation or discussion process; can take place prior to or between meetings; an initial phase of the mediation process, where mediator meets with each party prior to a joint session.

Problem solving

An intentional and systematic process by which effective responses are sought for difficult situations.v
Procedural concerns

Issues that relate to the process by which a problem is addressed; one of three sets of concerns (along with substantive and psychological concerns) in conflict.

Psychological concerns

Issues that relate to the emotional well being of group members, such as safety, trust, integrity concerns; one of three sets of concerns (along with substantive and procedural concerns) in conflict.


Polarization of a conflict occurs as a conflict rises in intensity (that is, escalates). Often as escalation occurs, more and more people get involved, and take strong positions either on one side or the other. "Polarization" refers to this process in which people move toward extreme positions ("poles"), leaving fewer and fewer people "in the middle."

Political context

Is the outcome of the conflict affected by the political system or decision making structure of the community or nation in which the conflict occurs? Who holds the power in the community or society? Are decisions made democratically, or by an authoritarian system?


Positions are what people say they want--the superficial demands they make of their opponent. According to Fisher and Ury, who first distinguished between interests and positions, positions are what people have decided upon, while interests are what caused them to decide. Often one side's position will be the opposite of their opponents', although their interests may actually be compatible.

Positive-Sum Situations (Positive-Sum Games)

Game theory makes a distinction between positive-sum situations (often called "games,") which everyone can win (also referred to as "win-win"), negative sum games (also referred to as "lose-lose") and zero-sum games in which one side wins only if another side loses.


Power is the ability to get what you want, or as conflict theorist Kenneth Boulding put it, to "change the future." This can occur through force (sometimes referred to as "power-over"), through cooperation (referred to as "power-with" or exchange power) or through the power of the integrative system--the system of identity and relationships that holds people together in groups.

Power Strategy Mix

This term refers to the mix of force, exchange, and integrative power that is used by a disputant in an effort to prevail in any conflict situation.


Practitioners are people who engage in conflict resolution as a profession--mediators, arbitrators, facilitators, and diplomats, for example.

Principled Negotiation

This approach to negotiation was developed by Fisher and Ury and first presented in their best-selling book, Getting to Yes, in 1981. Basically an integrative negotiation strategy calls for "separating the people from the problem," negotiating on the basis of interests rather than positions, identifying options for mutual gain, and using objective criteria to judge fairness of any proposed settlement.

Problem Solving

This term is sometimes used to refer to analytical problem solving workshops that seek to analyze and resolve conflicts based on identifying and providing the underlying human needs. In other situations, it refers to an approach to mediation that focuses primarily on resolving the conflict (as opposed to transforming the relationships of the people involved).

Problem Solving Approach

The problem solving approach to conflict involves working cooperatively with the other disputants to solve a common problem. It can be contrasted with the adversarial approach which views the other disputants as opponents or enemies to be defeated, not cooperated with.

Procedural problems

Procedural problems are problems with decision making procedures. Examples are decisions that are made without considering relevant and important facts, decisions that are made arbitrarily without considering the interests or needs of the affected people, or decisions that are made without following the established and accepted process. Often, procedural problems can intensify and complicate disputes which could be resolved relatively easily if proper procedures were followed.


Reconciliation is the normalization of relationships between people or groups. According to John Paul Lederach, it involves four simultaneous processes--the search for truth, justice, peace, and mercy. When all four of these factors are brought together, reconciliation, Lederach says, is achieved.

Reconciliation - Reconciliation is the return to normal, cooperative relationships between individuals or groups. When parties reconcile, they resolve the dispute. The values of truth, justice, peace and mercy are necessary in order for reconciliation to occur.

Reflective Listening - Paraphrasing (putting into one's own words) what someone has said, including the content and the feelings. This technique is used to let another person know you have really heard when she or he said.

Reframing - Reframing means seeing the problem in a different way. Often, a third party may suggest a point of view that is different from the way any of the disputants are seeing the situation. By reframing the situation in a new way, the parties in a conflict can often see new possibilities for reconciliation.

Restitution - When harm is done to a person or group, restitution is a way of repaying them. The restitution may be in the form of money, goods or services which help to offset the damage done. Restitution is an important step toward resolving disputes and moving toward reconciliation.

Restorative justice - Restorative justice refers to restoring, or bringing back, the victim to his or her condition before the offense. This may be done by the offender apologizing and paying restitution, and by the victim forgiving the offender. There are victim-offender reconciliation programs that specialize in helping the parties accomplish restorative justice.

Rights - A rights approach to a dispute uses laws, rules, policies or other methods that determine who has the "right" to do something. The United States operates in a rights system, giving people rights under the law.


Reframing is the process of redefining a situation--seeing a conflict in a new way, based on input from other people who define the situation differently than you do.

Referent power

The power that one accrues from earning respect from others, generally associated with integrity and competence.

Relationship Problems

Relationship problems are problems between two or more people that involve, most importantly, the relationship between those two people. For example, conflicts can be caused because two people don't trust each other, or because they are in constant, hostile competition with each other.


See Conflict Resolution

Resolution-Resistant Conflict

We use this term to refer to conflicts that are highly difficult, but not impossible, to resolve. The term "intractable conflict" means the same thing, but often we use "resolution-resistant" instead because some people interpret "intractable" to mean "impossible."


Restitution involves paying a person or group back for harm that was done to them. Although lost lives can never be replaced, making a symbolic repayment of money, social or economic assistance, or otherwise alleviating damage or harm that was done as much as possible can go a long way toward resolving a conflict and moving toward reconciliation.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is justice that is not designed to punish the wrong-doer, but rather to restore the victim and the relationship to the way they were before the offence. Thus, restorative justice requires an apology from the offender, restitution for the offense, and forgiveness from the victim. Often this is accomplished through victim-offender reconciliation programs which may operate at either the interpersonal or intergroup level.


Retribution is retaliation--getting back at someone for something they did to hurt you.


A conflict is said to be "ripe" for settlement or negotiation when it has reached a stalemate, or when all of the parties have determined that their alternatives to negotiation will not get them what they want or need. In this case, they are likely to be ready to negotiate a settlement which will attain at least part of their interests--more than they are getting otherwise or stand to get if they pursue their force-based options further.

Scale-up Problem

Most negotiations and other conflict resolution processes occur among a small group of people. In intergroup, inter-organizational, and international conflicts, these negotiators represent a large number of other people, not just themselves. Getting those people--the constituents--to agree to the settlement developed by the negotiators is often a problem, as they have not gone through the same trust-building and understanding-improving process that the negotiators have experienced. We refer to this as the "scale-up problem," as the small group understandings and trust must be "scaled up" to the larger population if peace building is to be effective.


One who has a vested interest in a situation or outcome.

Substantive concerns

The "stuff" of the discussion; the issues that most view as the basis of the problem to be solved; one of three sets of concerns (along with procedural and psychological concerns) in conflict.

Scoping *

Scoping is the process of determining who else is involved in a conflict and what their interests, needs, and positions are. It also involves the determination of external constraints that affect the situation and any other factors that define the conflict situation beyond one's own view of the conflict.

Social context

The term "social context" refers to the social relationships the exist in a community at the time the conflict occurs. For instance, is one group socially and/or economically dominant, while other groups are less successful or discriminated against?

Soft Bargaining

This is a term used to refer to very cooperative, conciliatory bargaining that focuses primarily on reaching an agreement and not making the other side upset. Fisher and Ury contrast it with adversarial, competitive bargaining that assumes that the opponent is an enemy to be defeated, rather than a partner to be worked with cooperatively. They contrast both these approaches with a third approach, principled negotiation, which is neither hard nor soft, but rather integrative in its approach.

Soft approach - Avoiding or ignoring a conflict or problem. See avoidance for more information.

Solve the Problem approach - Using a "win-win" or Interest-based approach to conflict with a focus on needs and wants. See win-win and interests for more information.

Stalemate - A stalemate occurs when parties in a dispute are not making progress toward a resolution. Once a stalemate is reached, the parties may be ready for a third party to help them negotiate a settlement.

Stereotyping - Stereotyping is assuming that all members of a group are the same. Stereotyping is dangerous because it oversimplifies the many differences among people of the same group. For example, assuming that all children who grow up in poor neighborhoods will resort to drugs and violence is stereotyping. It may be true of some poor children, but not all. Stereotyping can lead to serious misunderstandings and can hinder the conflict resolution process.

Stable Peace

Stable peace is the situation in which two countries do not even consider war to be an acceptable or possible option for dispute resolution between them. It is contrasted with unstable peace (in which countries are at peace but think that war is possible at a future time).


Stakeholders are people who will be affected by a conflict or the resolution of that conflict. It includes current disputants, and also people who are not currently involved in the conflict but might become involved because they are likely to be affected by the conflict or its outcome sometime in the future.
v Stalemate

A stalemate is a standoff; a situation in which neither side can prevail in a conflict, no matter how hard they try. Often parties must reach a stalemate before they are willing to negotiate an end to their conflict.

See stereotyping


Stereotyping is the process of assuming a person or group has one or more characteristics because most members of that group have (or are thought to have) the same characteristics. It is a simplification and generalization process that helps people categorize and understand their world, but at the same time it often leads to errors. Examples of stereotypes that are often wrong are that women are weak and submissive, while men are powerful and domineering. This may be true for some women and some men, but it is not true for all. When stereotypes are inaccurate and negative (as they often are between groups in conflict) they lead to misunderstandings which make resolving the conflict more difficult.

Track two diplomacy

_______ diplomacy (sometimes called "track two diplomacy") refers to unofficial contacts between people of different _______, as differentiated from official contacts between _________. ________ includes exchanges of people (such as student exchanges), international religious, scientific and cultural activities, as well as unofficial dialogues, discussions, or negotiations between _________ of opposing _______.

Tactical Escalation

This is intentional escalation, when one (or multiple) parties escalate a conflict on purpose to try to mobilize support for their own side.


This refers to all forms of electronic communications--telephone, television, and computers, for example.

Third Party

A "third party" is someone who is not involved in the conflict who gets involved to try to help the disputants work out a solution (or at least improve the situation by communicating better or increasing mutual understanding.) Examples of third parties are mediators, arbitrators, conciliators, and facilitators.

Third Party - A third party is a person who helps the disputants to resolve their conflict. The third party is impartial and not involved in the conflict. Examples of third parties are mediators, arbitrators, conciliators, facilitators and judges.

Threat - A threat is a statement that demands that another party do something, or else negative consequences will follow. When a threat is made, one party tries to gain power over the other.

Triggering events - A triggering event is something that happens to start a conflict. It can be something minor, such as an accidental word or careless mistake, or it can be something major and deliberate.

Third Party Intervention

The term "third party" usually refers to a person who gets involved in a dispute in an effort to help the disputing parties resolve the problem. This third party can be a neutral outsider, or he or she may be a person already involved in the conflict (an insider) who takes on the role of a mediator to help work out a mutually-acceptable resolution.


A threat is any statement that takes the form "you do something I want, or I will do something you do not want." According to Kenneth Boulding's theory of power, threat is one of three forms of power, the other two being exchange and what he calls "love," (which we refer to as the "integrative system").

Track Two Diplomacy

Track two diplomacy involves unofficial dialogue, discussions, or even negotiations between ordinary citizens about topics that are usually reserved for diplomats--for instance about arms control agreements, or negotiations to end to long-standing international conflict. It is differentiated from Track One diplomacy which involves formal discussions between official diplomats.

Triggering Events

A triggering event is an event that initiates a conflict. It can be minor--a simple statement that is misinterpreted, or a careless mistake. Or it can be major--for instance, the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand was supposedly the "triggering event" that started World War I.

Value Differences

Value differences are differences in people's fundamental beliefs about what is good and bad, right and wrong. When people=s values differ significantly, the resulting conflict is often very hard to resolve, as people are not willing to change or compromise their fundamental values and beliefs.

Value differences - Value differences are differences in what people believe and what they consider to be important. People's values are very important to them and they are usually not willing to change them. Conflicts are often difficult to resolve when the disputant's value differences are great.

Values - Values are our ideas and beliefs about what is good and bad, right and wrong, important or unimportant. We all have values about the way people should behave toward each other in families, as friends and at work. We have values about religion, money, careers and practically every other area of life.


Values are the ideas we have about what is good and what is bad, and how things should be. We have values about family relationships (regarding, for instance, the role of the husband with respect to the wife), about work relationships (regarding, for instance, how employers should treat employees) and about other personal and relationships issues (regarding, for example, how children should behave towards adults, or how people should follow particular religious beliefs).


Worst Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement

Win-Lose (Adversarial) Approach

This is the approach to conflict taken by people who view the opponent as an adversary to be defeated. It assumes that in order to win, the opponent must lose. This is opposite to the win-win approach to conflict that assumes that if the disputants cooperate, a solution which provides a victory for all sides can be found.

Win-lose (adversarial) approach - In this approach, each party in a dispute sees the other party as the enemy, to be defeated. This is contrasted with the "win-win" approach, in which parties cooperate to find a mutually beneficial and agreeable solution.

World view - A person's world view is the way s/he sees the world and his/her place in it. In includes the person's beliefs about how things are done and by whom, what is good and bad, why things happen as they do, and who holds the reins of power. It also includes the group or groups to which a person belongs or with which s/he identifies.

Win-Win (Cooperative or Problem Solving) Approach

This is the approach to conflict taken by people who want to find a solution that satisfies all the disputants. In "win-win" bargaining, the disputing parties try to cooperate to solve a joint problem in a way that allows both parties to "win." This is contrasted with the "win-lose" (adversarial) approach to conflicts that assumes that all opponents are enemies and that in order to win a dispute, the opponent must lose.

Win-win (cooperative, Interest-based, or problem-solving) approach - In this approach, the parties in a dispute work together to cooperatively solve the problem and reach a solution that is satisfactory for everyone. This is contrasted with the "win-lose" approach, in which each party tries to defeat the other.

Win-Win Situations

Game theory makes a distinction between positive-sum situations (often called "games") which everyone can win (also referred to as "win-win"), negative sum games (also referred to as "lose-lose"), and zero-sum games in which one side wins only if another side loses.

World view

A world view is a person's fundamental image of the world--one=s set of core beliefs about how their social environment is put together. It involves one's fundamental values about what is good and bad; it involves beliefs about who does what and why; it involves assumptions about what causes events and what those events might later cause. World views are closely linked with a person=s sense of identity. People see themselves as part of some groups and not part of others, of having a particular role to play in society, and particular relationships with others. One's image of who one is results from one's fundamental image of the world and one's image of how one relates to other people in it.

Zero-Sum Games or Situations

Zero-sum games or situations are situations in which the only way one side can get ahead (or get more of something) is if the other side gets less. This occurs when there is a finite amount of a resource to be distributed, and the together the parties want more than is available. In this situation, no side can get what they want unless the other side gets less than they want. This is also referred to as win-lose situations.

Workplace conflict
Conflict Management

How do you handle conflict?
Before proposing a solution, I collect all relevant facts surrounding the conflict. Conflicts are often resolved if sufficient time is devoted to determining root causes, while disregarding trivial or irrelevant facts.

An effective answer can also be supplemented with the following response:
When resolving a problem between employees, I serve as a neutral third party. When needed, I establish rules of conduct. For an organization to operate efficiently, employees must be on the same page. At most organizations, bad feelings exist among some employees, so a manager is responsible for ensuring that employees are placed in situations where they're comfortable to focus on their job responsibilities. In other words, employees must be situated around others they can work with so productivity is not affected.

How do you cope with conflict in the workplace?
I'm proactive. In other words, I monitor situations closely to prevent minor problems from escalating into major ones. In most cases, minor problems can be resolved by simply meeting individually with affected parties. It's not a good idea to ignore a problem in hopes that it will resolve itself. Some managers avoid confrontation, which frequently results in bigger problems that are more difficult to handle. Effective leaders are also aware of many factors, including jealously, individual differences, and other issues that create conflicts among employees. Therefore, effective managers must meet individually with feuding employees and suggest workable solutions.

Give an instance wherein you had to settle a conflict between two individuals.
At a previous job, I was responsible for resolving a conflict between two team members who could no longer work effectively together. Their relationship began affecting the productivity of other employees. The first thing I did was separate them to calm the situation. I then proceeded to meet together with both parties to discuss the problem in a calm and controlled setting. I assumed control of the discussion since emotions frequently trump reason during disputes between two people and made it clear that a compromise must be reached. One of my main objectives during the meeting was to understand the perspectives of both parties without siding with either one. At first, this was difficult since each party presented their arguments without considering other perspectives. To counter this, I made it clear to each party that changes must be made since the status quo was unworkable. Shortly thereafter, we agreed to a workable solution. Before concluding the meeting, I emphasized that during future disagreements each party must act considerably and professionally and avoid getting emotional. After our meeting, work resumed as normal and the overall work atmosphere became more pleasant.

Have you faced a situation where you had to work with someone who didn't like you? How did you handle it?
Focus on how you emphasized professionalism versus personal likes or dislikes. Talk about how you clearly established a professional operating environment that produced results, without necessarily having a personal relationship.

Describe a situation when you got co-workers who dislike each other to work together constructively.
Describe how you took time to empathize with how each team member was feeling and why, then talk about the steps you took to find common ground in the group. I.e. Praising positive teaming behavior, discouraging negative teaming behavior. Dividing the task up into parts that each team member could take on etc.

Describe a time when you took accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with the individual(s) involved to explain your actions.
Conflict is an inevitible part of the work environment. How you deal with conflict is an important skill. Here don't focus overly much on why the conflict took place, instead talk about what you did to overcome it. I.e. You identified common ground, clarified expectations, identified miscommunications, empathized with the other person etc.

Talk about a time when your performance was less than your supervisor was expecting.
Spend a short amount of time describing the situation and the majority of the time describing what you learned. I.e. I learned to clearly document expectations prior to beginning a project.

What is Conflict Prevention?
Sometimes it is possible to prevent disputes before they occur, by creating and strengthening communication among stakeholders regarding substantive issues, how stakeholders interact, and relationships among stakeholders. Alternative dispute resolution techniques such as mediation, facilitation, and conciliation are used in a variety of contexts (e.g., public participation, team building) to assist in preventing conflict.

What is Convening (or Conflict Assessment)?
Convening (also called conflict assessment) involves the use of a neutral third party to help assess the causes of the conflict, to identify the persons or entities that would be affected by the outcome of the conflict, and to help these parties consider the best way (for example, mediation, consensus-building, or a lawsuit) for them to deal with the conflict. The convener may also help get the parties ready for participation in a dispute resolution process by providing education to the parties on what the selected process will be like.

What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party (the mediator) assists disputants in reaching a mutually satisfying settlement of their differences. Mediation is voluntary, informal, and confidential. The mediator helps the disputants to communicate clearly, to listen carefully, and to consider creative ways for reaching resolution. The mediator makes no judgments about the people or the conflict, and issues no decision. Any agreement that is reached must satisfy all the disputants.