Managing a Conflict

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How do we manage a conflict depends on us, the situation, the actors, the core and the temperature of the conflict. There is no "the one wonder method" for a solution. Therefore before we (re)act in the conflict, we need to devote some time to look closely at it and analyze it.

What would be an appropriate solution?

Necessary for dealing with conflicts in a dialogue way is the double-sided interest, the preferemces of the involved parties or the realistic feasability to satisfy both parties. On what ground we might decide about the appropriate conflict management strategy? These criteria might help us to decide about the right solution strategy:


How sustainable might be the solution?


Does it feasably prevent further, new conflicts?


Might it hedge the conflict?


Might the solution be effective in terms of balancing time effort,
personal involvement and quality of the solution?


Might the outcome be fair?


To what extent might the involved people be satisfied with the result?

A first step into a solution: conflict analysis

People have different perspective on life and its problems. We each have our own uniqueness and character, each of us has our own values, which guide our thinking and our behavior and motivate us to take certain actions or reject others. Therefore when we meet and work with others, we find that they often have a different perspective on things. So that can be a very beginning of any conflict between us and certain person or group of people. We heard often from people that conflict is a very bad condition and some people just want to skip it, but there is also other opinion that conflict is a good chance to develop the relations or any situation. And if you are keen on the second opinion you should know for solve the conflict first you should do is conflict analysis with the conflicting sides.

What is conflict analysis?

For many of those who are engaged in practical work on conflict, the concept of conflict analysis can seem quite remote from their own experience. It is sometimes seen as requiring objectivity and neutrality rather than personal experience and strong emotion. This is not our understanding of the concept. We see conflict analysis as a practical process of examining and understanding the reality of the conflict from a variety of perspectives. This understanding then forms the basis on which strategies can be developed and actions planned. Conflict analysis can be done with the help of a number of simple, practical and adaptable tools and techniques. Some of the tools are presented here.

Why do we need to analyze conflicts?

  • to understand the background and history of the situation as well as current events
  • to identify all the relevant groups involved, not just the main or obvious ones
  • to understand the perspectives of all these groups and to know more about how they relate to each other
  • to identify factors and trends that underpin conflicts
  • to learn from failures as well as successes

Conflict analysis is not a one-time exercise. It must be ongoing process as the situation is developing, so that you can adapt your actions to changing factors, dynamics and circumstances.

The Temperature: Hot vs. Cold Conflict

Depending on the temperature of the conflict there are different strategies for prevention and curation. Hot conflict is when it stands in the foreground and affects all parties consciously on the cognitive, emotional and behavioral level. Cold conflict is also affecting parties but they are not aware of it or sometimes try to suppress it in the deep background of their awareness.

Deescalation of hot conflicts Escalation of cold conflicts
  • Addressing concrete problems
  • Confrontation meetings - to prevent, that a hot conflict becomes too fast cold
  • Reconstruction and clarification of the conflict genesis
  • Parties explain and rationalize their different behaviors and perceptions
  • Mediation
  • Separated talks with each party
  • Dramatizing existing cold conflicts through simulations
  • Encouraging a client to fight more intensive for his or her point of view


  • Bildungsziel: Bürger - Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg
  • Konflikte in interkulturellen Gruppen by Andreas Foitzik, Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg
  • Working with Conflict: Skills and Strategies for Action by S.Fisher, D.Ibrahim Abdi, J.Ludin, R.Smith, S.Williams, S.Williams, Zed books, London, 2000