This article has been written by Gauri Atreja pursuing the Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from LawSikho. This article has been edited by Ruchika Mohapatra (Associate, Lawsikho). 


Negotiation can be seen often in our daily lives. A dispute or negotiation may occur when there is a conflict of interests, and both parties want to seek to communicate and find solutions rather than give in or break contact. Conflicts, whether with bosses, peers, subordinates, friends, or acquaintances, are something few of us enjoy dealing with. This is especially true when the argument escalates into a hostile situation involving high emotions. Conflict resolution can be emotionally tiring. As shown in the box below, there can be both positive and negative outcomes. It has the potential to be harmful, and may also be beneficial to you and your personal and professional relationships. The crucial thing is to handle the dispute rather than suppressing it or allowing it to spiral out of control. Many of us try to avoid conflict although conflict is an important part of creativity and inspiration in many situations.

Positive Outcomes of ConflictNegative Outcomes of Conflict
1. can encourage us to try more to “win” 2. can promote commitment and group loyalty 3. can lead to innovative discoveries and new approaches 1. can encourage us to try more to “win” 5. conflict can reveal underlying concerns and facilitate transformation. 6. conflict can draw attention to fundamental issues and lead to a solution. 7. boosted energy level, making critical values apparent8. Conflict can sharpen our approaches to negotiating, persuasion, and competition.1. can result in rage, avoidance, sniping, yelling, frustration, dread of failure, and feelings of inadequacy2. concealing crucial information 3. decreased productivity because of unnecessary conflict4. Career can be derailed; relationships can be ruined. 5. work habits can be disrupted. 6. consume a significant amount of time, resulting in a loss of productivity

Throughout your professional and personal life, you will be continuously negotiating and settling disagreements. Given that companies are becoming less hierarchical, less based on positional authority, and less based on clear lines of duty and authority, conflict is likely to become even more prevalent in the future. Negotiation abilities have been demonstrated to be one of the most important indicators of job success in studies. While negotiating is in some ways an art form, there are precise strategies that anybody can acquire. Understanding these approaches and honing your abilities will be crucial to your professional and personal success.

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What is conflict resolution?

Anyone with a basic understanding of what conflict is might probably come to the conclusion that conflict resolution aims to resolve the source of the dispute. However, this overly simplistic view ignores the process of conflict resolution. Worse, this perspective frequently relies on the previously noted premise that conflict is negative, emphasising the importance of avoiding conflict as a main way of resolution. True conflict resolution, on the other hand, refers to the process through which two or more parties come to a peaceful resolution to a problem. As previously said, conflict resolution is a process rather than an event, and it is best tackled through the use of conflict resolution and negotiating tactics. While avoidance fails to acknowledge the existence of a problem—and its potential negative consequences—accepted conflict resolution techniques attempt to reconcile the differences, incompatibilities, or violations that occurred with a resolution that allows all parties involved to move forward with a common goal.

What is the relation between conflict resolution and dispute resolution?

Negotiation, on the surface, appears to be quite similar to the broader concept of conflict resolution—a dialogue selected to resolve disagreements or conflicts or to reach an agreement between two or more parties. The two conceptions, however, exist independently, and one may have an impact on the other at any moment and throughout any conflict. Parties may, for example, encounter conflict throughout the negotiation process and want to resolve it so that negotiations can continue.

What are the primary causes of conflict?

Most confrontations are fuelled by conflicting interests (or what we believe are opposing interests). In today’s complex culture, we are confronted with these scenarios on a daily basis. The modern organisation introduces a whole new set of possible conflict triggers to the already existing list:

1. A battle for limited resources and time.

2. Uncertainty about responsibilities and authority.

3. Perceptional disparities, skill sets, mindsets, language difficulties, and individual differences.

4. Increasing interconnectedness as individual and group boundaries become increasingly blurred.

5. Incentive systems: we operate in settings where incentive systems are complicated and often conflicting. 

6. Differentiation: the division of labour, which is the foundation of any organisation, causes people and groups to see situations differently and have distinct aims.

7. Equity vs. equality: There is a constant tension between equity (the notion that we should be compensated according to our respective contributions) and equality (the belief that everyone should have the same or similar outcomes).

The five modes of conflict resolution

It’s helpful to define our conflict responses along two dimensions: It’s helpful to define our conflict responses along two dimensions:

 1. How important or unimportant it is to meet our own wants, and 

2. It’s helpful to define our conflict responses along two dimensions:

The five dispute resolution modes are determined by the answers to these questions. None of them are “correct” or “incorrect.” There are times when any of these would be acceptable. If we are unable to drive to work, for example, we may determine that “avoidance” is the best option. Sometimes “avoidance” isn’t the best option. Collaboration, likewise, may be suitable at times but not at others.

  1. Competition: Win-lose (distributive) bargaining

It’s crucial to you to meet your own wants; meeting the needs of others isn’t.

  1. Integrative Collaboration (win-win)

It’s critical to meet both your own and the other’s demands.

  1. Compromising:

It’s moderately vital to meet both your own and others’ needs.

  1. Avoiding

You don’t care if your wants or the needs of others are met: It is unlikely that any action will be taken.

  1. Enabling

 Just yield (it doesn’t matter to you, but it does to the other person).

Most successful negotiators begin with a collaborative (integrative) or win-win bargaining strategy. Most competent negotiators would strive for a win-win outcome in which both parties feel they have won. Negotiations proceed considerably more smoothly when both parties believe they are in a win-win position or when both parties approach the negotiation with the goal of “creating value” or meeting both their own and the other’s demands.

We’ll concentrate on the two most troublesome types: collaborative (integrative) and competitive (competitive) (Distributive).

What are different types of negotiation?

Collaboration is the more significant of the two because most of your personal and professional negotiation and conflict resolution will (or should) be of this sort. This is because the majority of negotiations involve situations in which we desire or need to maintain a long-term connection with the other party. While it is important to develop skills in “competitive” bargaining (for example, when buying a car), or skills that allow us to satisfy our own concerns while ignoring the goals of others, this approach has a number of negative consequences in both our personal lives and our professional careers, particularly if we are to maintain a long-term relationship with the other person.

How to reduce already existing conflicts?

Organizations also take dispute resolution measures. The following is a list of some of these options:

  • Physical isolation, 
  • Hierarchy (the boss makes the decisions),
  •  Bureaucratic approaches (rules, procedures),
  •  Integrators and third-party intervention,
  •  Bargaining, and rotating members,
  • Interdependent tasks and higher-level goals (“We’re all in it together…”) intergroup, 
  • And interpersonal training.

Negotiation’s rational and emotional elements

All discussions have two levels: a cognitive (substantive) decision-making process and a psychological (emotional) decision-making process. The psychological, as well as rational factors, are both likely to influence the outcome of a negotiation. In most cases, intangible components like:

Psychological factors that affect negotiations

  • How at ease each party is with the conflict. 
  • Individual Perception. 
  • Assumptions about the problem and the other party. 
  • The attitudes and expectations.The decisions each part makes about trust, about how important “winning” is, how important it is to avoid conflict, how much one likes or dislikes the other; how important it is to “not look foolish.”

The “logical” element of the negotiation is rather simple to grasp. The “psychological” aspect is more difficult to grasp. We must mentally comprehend ourselves and our opponents. Most failed negotiations are the result of a failure to comprehend these psychological needs and challenges.

This is complicated by the fact that most workplace rules discourage the open expression of negative personal feelings. As a result, significant emotional pain is frequently conveyed and explained as a substitute concern. People frequently fabricate little arguments to justify an emotional confrontation with another person (Ware and Barnes).

Kinds of bargaining

All bargaining circumstances can be classified into one of two groups:

  1. Distributive justice (also called competitive, zero-sum, win-lose or claiming value)

One side “wins” and the other “loses” in this type of bargaining. There are fixed resources to be distributed in this arrangement, and the more one obtains, the less the other gets. One person’s interests are at odds with the others in this situation. In this form of bargaining, the primary goal is usually to maximise one’s personal interests. Manipulation, forcing, and withholding information are all dominant methods in this mode. Because the goal in this type of situation is to enhance your own value while decreasing your opponent’s, this variation is also known as “claiming value.”

  1. Integrative (collaborative, win-win or creating value)

There is a  variety of resources to be shared in this type of bargaining, and both sides can “win.” The primary goal is to achieve the best possible results. Resolving a difference of opinion over where you and a friend wish to go to dinner is an example. Another scenario is dealing with a subordinate’s performance review or settling a situation involving a subordinate who consistently arrives late to work. Cooperation, exchanging knowledge, and reciprocal problem resolution are dominant strategies in this style. This style is also known as “generating value,” because the goal is for both parties to feel like they have more value after the negotiation.

Critical Points: Integrative/Win-Win Bargaining

Prepare a strategy and stick to it: Separate individuals from the problem by being clear on what is essential to you.

  • Emphasise on win-win situations:
  • Rather than focusing on positions, consider your passions.
  • Create Options for Mutual Gain: Before selecting what to do, generate a variety of options.
  • Aim for a result that is based on some objective criterion.
  • Consider the situation of the other party:
  • Pay close attention to the negotiation’s flow.
  • Take intangibles into account. 
  • Use Active Listening Techniques.


While conflict can certainly stall negotiations, the end agreement remains within reach with the implementation of the above conflict resolution and negotiation strategies. Approaching negotiations and conflict resolution as part of a process instead of a one-time event allows both to work in tandem, enabling navigation of conflicts as they arise. Through continuous communication, active listening, and the development of a deep understanding of mutual needs, all parties involved can work together towards an integrative solution.


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