strategies of conflict management eqmatch

Did you know that conflict at work costs $359 billion in paid hours to businesses?

According to CPP, 85% of employees experience inevitable conflicts at work.

Since conflicts are part and parcel of life (the workplace being no exception), HR decision-makers must have effective strategies to manage them. 

In our previous post, we talked about conflict management at work.

In this post, we will dive into different strategies of conflict management, including their advantages and disadvantages.

We will discuss the role of emotional intelligence in conflict management, conflict resolution steps, and effective conflict resolution techniques.

We will also provide practical examples to help you apply them in your workplace. 

Conflicts in the Workplace

Workplace conflict is inevitable.

Differences in personality, communication styles, goals, or resources can cause conflicts at work. 

When left unaddressed, conflicts can escalate, causing stress, decreased productivity, low morale, and high turnover rates.

And this is where conflict management comes into play. 

Put simply, conflict management refers to the process of identifying, addressing, and resolving conflicts in a constructive manner. 

It involves understanding the root causes of the conflict, considering different perspectives, and finding solutions that benefit all parties involved.

HR Statistics 2023

HR professionals play a crucial role in conflict management in the workplace. 

After all, human resource management involves creating a positive work environment that encourages open communication, respect, and collaboration. 

By implementing effective conflict management strategies, HR decision-makers can prevent conflicts from becoming toxic and disruptive to the organization’s overall performance.

Understanding Conflict

Before we talk about the different types of conflict management strategies, let’s discuss the different types of conflicts, their causes, and their stages.

strategies of conflict management eqmatch

Types of Conflict

Interpersonal conflict: 

This type of conflict is usually a result of a misunderstanding or disagreement.

It can arise between two or more individuals due to differences in personality, values, or communication styles. 

Intergroup conflict

Unlike interpersonal conflict, intergroup conflict occurs between two or more groups within an organization. 

Competition for resources, power, or influence is the main cause.

Intragroup conflict

Differences in opinions, goals, or priorities within a group can result in intragroup conflict.

For example, team members could have conflicting ideas about how to achieve a common goal.

Interorganizational conflict

Lastly, we have inter-organizational conflict.

It happens between two or more organizations due to competition for market share, resources, or clients.

Causes of Conflict

Differences in goals, values, and personalities, poor communication, scarce resources, and competition can cause conflicts.

Conflicts can also be triggered by external factors such as economic or political changes.

Stages of Conflict

Let’s cover the five stages of conflict.

Latent stage

Differences in opinion, values, or priorities between people “could” result in conflict. At this stage, the potential for conflict exists but is not realized.

Perceived stag

The stage where one or more parties involved in the conflict become aware of the potential for conflict is called the perceived stage.

Felt stage

When parties involved in the conflict start experiencing negative emotions such as frustration, anger, or resentment, the stage is known as the “felt stage”.

Manifest stage

Once the conflict becomes visible and open, it is time for the involved parties to start taking action for conflict resolution.

Conflict aftermath stage

Once the conflict has been resolved, and the parties involved start dealing with the consequences of the conflict, it is said to be in the aftermath stage.

strategies of conflict management eqmatch

Organizational Conflict Management Strategies

Let’s discuss the most common strategies of conflict management and their advantages and disadvantages.

Please note that these strategies of conflict management can vary depending on the situation and the parties involved. When conflicts arise, different approaches can be taken to find a resolution. 

Also, these are not conflict management strategies with examples. We will cover that in a separate post.

Here, we will just focus on the strategies.


The accommodation style of conflict management involves one party yielding to the other’s demands. This method can be effective when the conflict is less important to one party, but overuse may lead to feelings of resentment and unfairness.


Another approach is avoidance, where both parties choose not to address the conflict.

While this may be useful for minor conflicts where addressing it isn’t worth the cost, it should not be used for serious conflicts or those that may damage relationships. Procrastinating resolution may escalate the issue and negatively impact the workplace.


Collaboration involves working together to find a mutually beneficial solution. While it may take more time and effort than other approaches, it can lead to a creative and sustainable solution that addresses underlying issues.

Collaboration is suitable for conflicts where both parties’ goals are important and the relationship between them needs to be preserved.


When both parties strive to win the conflict, it can result in a competition. 

The competitive style of conflict management may work for conflicts with a clear and objective outcome.

The downside to this approach is that it can mar the relationship between the parties and escalate the conflict. 

The losing party may also become resentful, causing future conflicts.


Compromise is when both parties give up something to reach an acceptable solution. 

This approach could work for conflicts where there is no clear objective solution and both parties’ goals are important. 

On the flip side, it may leave both parties dissatisfied and fail to address the underlying issues.


Smoothing aims at reducing the emotional tension in the conflict. 

This approach can work for conflicts where emotions prevent rational discussion. However, it may only address the symptoms of the conflict and not the underlying issues.


A confrontation occurs when both parties openly address the conflict and work towards a resolution. 

This approach may be useful for complex conflicts or those where the relationship between parties has been damaged. 

While it may cause initial conflict and harm the relationship, it can lead to a better understanding of each party’s perspective and a sustainable solution.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy?

We talked about the different strategies of conflict management earlier. Each conflict management strategy comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

For example, while accommodation can preserve relationships, it can result in resentment. Likewise, avoidance can save time and effort but may escalate the conflict. 

While collaboration can help arrive at a sustainable solution, it can be time-consuming. Competition helps achieve a clear outcome but may harm relationships. Compromise can reach a mutually acceptable solution, but may not address the underlying issues. 

Smoothing can reduce emotional tension, but may not address the underlying issues. Finally, confrontation can lead to a better understanding and a sustainable solution but can cause more conflict.

conflict management eqmatch

Conflict Management in the Workplace 

We all understand why conflict resolution is important.

However, in order to manage conflicts better, HR managers need to establish some best practices.

Let’s talk about them.

Best practices for HR to manage conflicts in the workplace

There is no one way to manage workplace conflict.

Let’s take a look at some strategic ways of conflict management at work.

Establish clear communication channels

HR professionals should try to ensure that employees have a clear understanding of how to communicate their concerns and how to escalate them if necessary. 

Regular meetings, suggestion boxes, or even anonymous surveys can help in this regard.

Develop a conflict resolution policy

Organizations should establish a policy that outlines the steps to be taken when a conflict arises. This policy should be communicated to all employees and followed consistently.

Encourage active listening

Active listening is a critical skill in conflict resolution. 

HR and managers should encourage employees to listen carefully to each other’s concerns and to respond respectfully.

Provide conflict resolution training

Conflict resolution training can help employees learn how to manage conflicts constructively. This can include skills such as active listening, problem-solving, and negotiation.

Remain neutral

HR decision-makers should remain neutral in conflicts and avoid taking sides. 

This can help build trust and encourage employees to seek assistance when needed.

How to create a positive conflict resolution culture?

Here are some effective ways of creating a culture of positive conflict resolution in the workplace.

Foster an open-door policy

Encourage employees to come forward with their concerns and provide a safe space for them to do so.

Promote teamwork

As part of team building, encourage employees to work together and collaborate on projects. This can help build trust and a sense of community. 

Celebrate diversity

Celebrate the differences among employees and encourage them to appreciate each other’s unique perspectives. Check out this post on how you can build DEI with emotional intelligence.

Acknowledge and address conflicts

Conflicts should be acknowledged and addressed promptly to prevent them from escalating.

Reward positive conflict resolution

Recognize and reward employees who manage conflicts constructively.

The role of emotional intelligence in conflict management

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and others. In conflict management, EI can help HR leaders:

  • Recognize the emotional triggers that may be causing the conflict.
  • Develop empathy for those involved in the conflict
  • Help employees regulate their emotions so that they can approach the conflict constructively.
  • Encourage active listening and help employees communicate effectively.
  • Help employees develop problem-solving skills and find mutually beneficial solutions.

How can emotional intelligence help in conflict management?

Emotional intelligence can help HR leaders recognize emotional triggers, develop empathy, help employees regulate their emotions, encourage active listening and effective communication, and develop problem-solving skills.

Strategies of conflict management: Conclusion

Conflict management is an important part of HR duties to create a healthy and productive work environment. 

It is essential to understand the stages of conflict and choose appropriate conflict management strategies to resolve conflicts effectively. 

Using the aforementioned techniques of conflict resolution, HR decision-makers can build a positive conflict resolution culture and promote employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Conflict Management: FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to strategies of conflict management.

What are the three C’s of conflict resolution?

The 3 C’s of conflict resolution are communication, compromise, and cooperation.

What are the 10 principles of conflict management?

The ten principles of conflict management include active listening, empathy, clarity, respect, fairness, patience, and creativity. 

These principles help to promote understanding, respect, and trust between conflicting parties, creating a foundation for a positive resolution.

What are the 14 effective conflict resolution techniques?

Mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, collaboration, arbitration, avoidance, accommodating, competing, smoothing, confronting, compromise, perspective-taking, de-escalation, and communication training are some conflict resolution techniques. 

What are the five stages of conflict?

The five stages of conflict are latent, perceived, felt, manifest, and aftermath.

Why is conflict management important for HR decision-makers?

Conflict management is essential for HR decision-makers to maintain a healthy and productive work environment, promote employee engagement and job satisfaction, and minimize turnover and legal issues.

What are some common conflict resolution techniques?

Common conflict resolution techniques include negotiation, mediation, arbitration, compromise, collaboration, and confrontation.

How can emotional intelligence improve workplace relationships?

Emotional intelligence can improve workplace relationships by helping individuals understand and manage their own emotions, recognize and empathize with the emotions of others, communicate effectively, and resolve conflicts in a constructive and positive manner.

What are the benefits of having a conflict resolution policy in place?

Having a conflict resolution policy in place can help provide a clear and consistent process for addressing conflicts in the workplace. It can help prevent conflicts from escalating and damaging relationships, improve communication and teamwork, and create a more positive and productive work environment.

How can HR leaders assess employees’ conflict management skills?

HR professionals can assess employees’ conflict management skills through observation, feedback from coworkers and supervisors, and assessments such as self-assessments and 360-degree evaluations. They may also provide training and development opportunities to help employees improve their conflict management skills.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply