A Guide to Conflict Resolution Skills, Including How to Add Them to Your Resume

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Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

11 min read

A Guide to Conflict Resolution Skills, Including How to Add Them to Your Resume

A Guide to Conflict Resolution Skills, Including How to Add Them to Your Resume

Wherever human beings gather together, there is always the potential for confrontation and conflict. And yes, that includes the workplace, where arguments and disagreements can occur with surprising regularity. The fact is that you will eventually experience some type of conflict in your job. When it happens, will you know how to resolve the issue? Do you have the conflict resolution skills needed to navigate a work dispute? If you are unsure, don’t worry. We have you covered!

In this post, we will explore why conflict occurs in the workplace and how well-developed conflict resolution skills can help you manage disagreements in an effective way. We will also provide some important tips that you can use to highlight your conflict resolution skills in your resume.

What are conflict resolution skills?

Conflicts can involve any disagreement between two or more parties and can take many different forms. Sometimes, conflicts can be as minor as a basic disagreement over trivial matters. At other times, conflicts can involve major differences of opinion regarding strategies or courses of action. The problem is that even the smallest disagreements can escalate into major problems if they are left unaddressed. That’s where conflict resolution skills come into play.

Conflict resolution skills help disagreeing parties find common ground. For minor disagreements, this resolution can be as simple as an agreement to disagree, as long as everyone involved understands the need to work together to achieve the company’s goals. For major disagreements that impact productivity and workplace harmony, however, the resolution typically involves finding a solution that ends the disagreement entirely.

Different types of conflicts that you may see in your workplace

As noted above, conflicts in the workplace can take many different forms. For example, employees may sometimes come into conflict with their peers. They may also have disagreements with their supervisors, or customers. There may even be disputes between a company’s employees and its vendors. Basically, the potential for conflict can exist wherever two or more human beings interact. It can even occur between different departments within a single company.

Most conflicts cannot be ignored for long. Without a resolution, longstanding disagreements can impact employee morale, teamwork, and overall productivity. The discord created by conflict can have a negative effect on customer interactions, disrupt vendor relations, and lead to declines in employee engagement and retention. The effective use of conflict resolution skills can help end these disagreements and restore company harmony.

6 Examples of conflict resolution skills

There is no singular skill that can be defined as conflict resolution. Instead, the ability to resolve conflicts involves the use of a variety of related skills. For the sake of simplification, we have identified six core skills that can play a vital role in any successful conflict resolution.

1.      Facilitation

To successfully resolve any conflict, you have to be able to get the two sides together to find common ground. Your ability to facilitate this process can involve a variety of other abilities, including active listening, diplomacy, and collaboration—as well as traits like patience, intuition, and perception. Facilitation is one of those teamwork skills that any good negotiator will possess and is prized by companies that value sound leadership abilities.

2.      Communication

Obviously, you are not going to get far in any conflict resolution effort without great communication skills. You will need to be able to employ active listening to properly understand the issues in dispute, paying attention to both verbal and nonverbal messages as they are being conveyed. Persuasiveness is also critical since your conflict resolution efforts can only be successful if you can convince the parties to reach a solution acceptable to everyone involved.

3.      Empathy

The ability to understand another person’s point of view is also critical for resolving conflicts. Your empathy should enable you to understand how each person involved in the dispute thinks and feels about the situation at hand. Someone with solid empathy skills will be able to manage the different personalities involved in any given dispute, demonstrate compassion, build trust, and help the parties get past their emotional attachment to the issue.

4.      Mediation

The ability to mediate disagreements is a vital skill for conflict resolution. A good mediator will be both assertive and welcoming. They will generally possess superior emotional intelligence that enables them to remain impartial, unemotional, and measured in their approach to conflict. A transparent, neutral approach to conflict resolution can help to ensure that the search for a solution is conducted in a rational, respectful way that seeks to ensure that everyone is satisfied with the results.

5.      Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills include abilities that enable you to analyze the true source of any problem and work toward a solution. Conflict resolution often requires you to use your problem-solving skills to find creative win-win options that provide a fair resolution to any dispute. This can involve integrating competing goals, efforts to restore strained relationships, and redirecting the parties’ focus to broader company objectives.

6.      Focus on accountability

Finding a solution to any conflict is only the beginning of the conflict resolution process. Follow-up may also be needed to ensure that problems remain resolved. This helps to ensure that everyone involved in the resolution process remains committed to the solution and can help to prevent the problem from recurring.

Tips to help you more effectively resolve workplace conflicts

If you already possess many of those basic conflict resolution skills, then chances are that you have what it takes to resolve disputes in your workplace. Still, there are some helpful strategies that you will need to know before you dive headfirst into the next dispute you encounter in the office. Here are some key steps that you should take whenever you approach a problem that requires conflict resolution.

Center yourself before you begin

The last thing you want to do when you are trying to resolve a conflict is to bring your own emotions into the process. To prevent that, you should always take the time to make sure that you are calm and collected before you approach any disagreeable situation. Sit down, take a few deep breaths, and balance your emotions. When you are calm, you will have a much easier time helping others to restrain their own emotions.

Obtain agreement that a problem exists

As you begin your intervention, start by getting the parties to at least agree that there is a dispute that needs to be remedied. Without that basic agreement, nothing else can be accomplished. Let the disputants know that you want to help them find an equitable resolution to their disagreement but that they all need to acknowledge that a problem exists before you can move forward.

Gather in a neutral location

Mediation is always more effective when it is conducted on neutral ground, so try to take the resolution process to a location where everyone can feel at ease. Depending on your workplace, that could be an empty office, the cafeteria, or a meeting room. Do not attempt resolution in a public space where an audience may gather. Instead, make sure that the selected meeting place is in an area where everyone has the privacy needed to openly share their thoughts and feelings.

Make sure that the parties agree to resolve the issue

Once you have gathered in a safe, neutral location, get everyone to agree that they want to resolve the issue. Mediation can only be effective when disagreeing parties are committed to fixing their problems. Do not begin any serious conflict resolution efforts until you have secured that basic agreement. If either party is reluctant to commit to resolution, you may need to take them aside and explain why this issue cannot be ignored.

Assess the situation

Assessing the actual source of the conflict is the most important part of any conflict resolution effort. To do that, you should get all parties to convey their perceptions of the issue at hand. Make sure that each party explains what they think is happening, their thoughts about the conflict, and their feelings. As you gather this information, be empathetic and use active listening skills to understand their point of view.

Throughout this process, try to determine which stressors may have led to the dispute. Those stress factors may include policies that have been inadequately explained, conflicting expectations, burnout, or even problems at home. You will need to fully understand why the conflict occurred if you hope to resolve it in a satisfactory way.

Brainstorm to identify areas for compromise

This is where your problem-solving skills will need to come into play. Successful conflict resolution is usually the art of finding the right compromise since the best solutions are typically ones that leave everyone feeling like a winner. Work with the parties to brainstorm possible solutions that enable them to meet somewhere in the middle.

Create a resolution plan

Your solution will also need an actual plan if it is to be properly implemented in a productive and satisfactory way. Ask each participant what they can do to make the compromise work and get them to commit to doing their part. Remember, though, no plan will work unless and until each side is able to recognize how their actions and thoughts contributed to the conflict.

Follow up to ensure that the resolution has been held

To ensure accountability, create a plan to follow up over time. One way to do this is to schedule a follow-through meeting where everyone can revisit the issue and provide updates on the plan’s implementation. By scheduling this meeting, you can ensure that the disputants understand that they are accountable for the resolution’s success.

How to include your conflict resolution skills on a resume

As you might imagine, employers place a premium value on these types of conflict resolution skills. They know that skilled mediators can make excellent leaders, and thus are always looking for job candidates who possess those skills. To ensure that prospective employers understand your ability to resolve conflict, you need to know how to include conflict resolution skills in your resume. These tips can help.

Including conflict resolution skills in your skills section

You should always include one or two of your strongest conflict resolution abilities in your skills section. You can refer to the skills listed earlier in this post and simply add bullet points in your skill list that highlight these abilities. For example:

  • Strong written and verbal communication

  • Negotiation and mediation

  • Active listening

  • Creative problem-solving

  • Conflict resolution facilitation

Including conflict resolution abilities in your work experience section

The work experience section can be another great opportunity to highlight your conflict resolution skills. Here, though, you will want to focus on highlighting a specific example of how you used those skills to resolve an issue within a previous employer’s company. To do that, just include that example as one of your bullet point highlights beneath the appropriate job listing. 

For example:

 

  • Successfully led conflict resolution efforts between ABC Corporation’s Internal Operations and Marketing divisions, resolving a longstanding dispute over client acquisition strategies. That resolution resulted in increased collaboration between the two departments, a reduction in client friction, and a 22% increase in productivity in the first quarter after implementation.

  • Oversaw team that resolved a two-year dispute with a critical vendor, identifying the source of friction and implementing solutions that eliminated supply chain impediments to ramped-up production.

Summary

Because conflict can occur at almost any time in the workplace, employers continue to value job candidates who possess critical conflict resolution skills. By learning to identify your own skills, strengthen your ability to resolve conflict, and properly include those skills in your resume, you can increase your chances of landing the job interview you need for your next great job.

Do you need help ensuring that your resume effectively highlights your critical conflict resolution skills? Then make sure to get your free resume review from our resume professionals today!

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Written by

Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.

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