Dispute resolving or resolution is the act of settling an argument or disagreement between opposing parties. It is also called peacekeeping.

A dispute refers to misunderstanding, confusion, fight, chaos or any situation that hinders agreement between parties.

A dispute is said to have been effectively resolved when the parties in the dispute are able to come to a mutual agreement on the matter. Its focus is not on finding a winner and a loser but on reaching a mutual agreement between the parties.

Humans have the natural tendency to resolve disputes but we are not always successful. This skill can be developed or learnt (studied at a professional institution).

Importance of dispute resolving

Considering the fact that disputes occur in societies and organizations every day, the essence of this skill cannot be overlooked. It is needed in every human institution to avoid or reduce the occurrence of conflicts. Whether as an employee, a manager, a counselor, a pastor or coach, you will need to develop very good dispute resolution skills to promote peace and unity in your organization.

Great dispute resolving skills in an organization will help:

  • Calm down disgruntled workers.
  • Prevent the escalation of existing quarrels and misunderstanding.
  • Build unity and peace among workers which results in healthy working relationships.

As an individual, this skill will help you cope with offences of colleagues and easily resolve any differences.

It will also help you perform better in Human Resource Management, Public Relations, Industrial Relations, Coaching, and Counseling positions etc.

How to improve upon dispute resolving skills

You may adapt the strategies below to improve on this skill.

  • Stay Calm: The use of insults, offensive languages and accusations are likely to occur during the resolution process but keep calm. Avoid verbal retaliations or confrontations as this may escalate the problem. Stay focused on what you want to achieve. As a third party peacekeeper, avoid taking sides.
  • Focus on the way forward: State your case and let them understand that the past is gone. You should focus on what can be done and how to ensure each person’s demands are fairly met.
  • Listen attentively: Learn to listen attentively and allow each party to make his point. Do not interfere when they are expressing their grievances unless their statements are abusive. Make good use of feedback in the listening process by asking questions for clarity and elimination of ambiguity.
  • Ask sensible questions: Avoid asking questions that can be provocative to any of the parties. Avoid the use of racial expressions and desist from statements that may be offensive to some religions, society etc.
  • Desist from blaming others: Whether you are one of the disputing parties or the third party peacemaker, avoid blaming the other parties. As the dispute resolver, the person you blame may accuse you of taking sides and may lose confidence in the process. As a disputing party, persistently blaming the other party will slow down the resolution process.
  • Develop a preference list: This is a great dispute resolution strategy. Let all parties state their most pressing desires or wants. You may realize there is no need for dispute after all. Example: John and Peter were disputing over a palm tree but John wanted the kernel for food whiles Peter just want edits leaves for decoration.
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