Effective Conflict Resolution

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Effective conflict resolution means:

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  • Acknowledging our own capacity to resolve our disputes and conflict situations with others through considered or 'mindful' communication
  • Taking responsibility for our responses to conflict whether constructive or destructive in their effect
  • Not depending on others to suppress our conflicts for us
  • Not seeking to suppress others' conflicts for them
  • Losing our dependence on others to change but instead to look inward to reflect on and reconsider our own perspective and response to our difficulty.
  • Losing our sense of helplessness and victimhood
  • Finding the power and creativity that mindful communication provides to enable us to successfully connect with others

This page introduces the Underlying Philosophies of Mediation that inform effective support for conflict resolution.

These Philosophies lead to the development of the Principles of Effective Communication and inform the use of the Effective Communication practices of .... that support the resolution of conflict.


The Underlying Philosophies of Mediation are:

1 Ownership

2 Empowerment

3 Impartiality

4 No-blame approach

5 Confidentiality

6 Adult-Adult type of relationship not Parent/ Child

Click on the links to these pages to find a description of the relevance and importance of integrating the Underlying Philosophy described into any approach to supporting the resolution of conflict.

All of the Underlying Philosophies of Mediation imply each other in that they all acknowledge that effective conflict resolution support is always about enabling others to resolve their own disputes and not about trying to control or change the behaviour of others.

As mentioned frequently on this website, 'techniques' which seek to manipulate or control others are methods of conflict suppression which is basically a form of conflict avoidance.

It doesn't work.


Conflict avoidance is like putting a lid on a boiling pot. Temporarily it will look as if the problem has gone away, but in a short time it will burst out again, often more violently or more dramatically than before.


Sadly there are many such techniques in the mediation and alternative dispute resolution world as well as in the 'day to day' world.

I will mention examples of these where they are relevant to the content being discussed and will say why I think they are still conflict suppression or conflict avoidance techniques.

How long ago did the major world conflicts have their origins? Even conflict suppression techniques used hundreds or even thousands of years ago have still emphatically failed. And in many cases they are still being used today.

Internationally, locally, and between you and I.

Seeking to control or change others in a conflict is conflict suppression and conflict avoidance. It doesn't work.

Seeking to control or change ourselves in a conflict situation leads to conflict resolution. It does work.

Effective conflict resolution support enables people to find ways of controlling or changing themselves.

Ineffective support has an approach in which the practitioner intervenes in a way that implies he/she knows 'better' than those in conflict how to control or change themselves. Hence, he/she tries to control, and to change them rather than support them in changing themselves. This is a manifestation of the Rescuer Syndrome - a major obstacle to the resolution of conflict and an escalator of the destructive responses to conflict.

Listen to how a mediator or other alternative dispute resolution practitioner speaks. Do they say 'I resolved their conflict!'? Or do they say 'I helped them to resolve their conflict!'?

Many practitioners do not reflect on whether they are doing these things or not.

As a result, a lot of approaches to dealing with destructive conflict are ultimately ineffective.

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Train to be a Mediator in London, UK with CAOS Conflict Management.

Are you experiencing difficulties communicating with someone? Perhaps at work with your boss, or your colleagues, or at home with your partner, children or other family members? Is there an unresolved conflict that you are struggling with?
Guide to Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution
Buy The Guide to The Principles of Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution for just $7, and learn the insights gained from the practices of Mediation and Conflict Coaching that can help you communicate better and create new ways to resolve your conflict.

There's also a FREE COPY of the e-booklet Listening, Summarising and Questioning - The Simple, Effective Skills of Conflict Resolution with every purchase of The Guide.

Some recent feedback on The Guide:

Dear Alan - I recently purchased The Guide which I think is excellent and highly useful in a personal and professional context. I am a teacher with the Skills Institute in Tasmania and I'm about to roll out communication training in Tasmania's only youth detention facility. I have an enormous amount of material regarding communication but none as succinct or as user-friendly as what you have developed.

Clare Thompson
Teacher-Human Services Skills Institute - Tasmania


Alan Sharland, author of the Communication and Conflict website is Director of CAOS Conflict Management, where he has a blog called CAOTICA, please visit by clicking this banner and if you like what you see please subscribe to CAOTICA.
CAOTICA the CAOS Conflict Management Blog


How to Resolve Bullying in the Workplace

Purchase this book by Alan Sharland on Kindle:

How to Resolve Bullying in the Workplace. Stepping out of the Circle of Blame to Create an Effective Outcome for All.

Click on the image or the link above to find out more.


Some more comments about this site.....

Hi Alan

It is refreshing to find reading material that informs and inspires and can provide a good resource for small organisations such as ours.

Anne Johnston - The Shropshire Housing Alliance Mediation Service



I did a 1 hour workshop where I presented your Facts and Feelings Listening Exercise. We learned so much about how we listen and the consequences of not listening well that I was asked to purchase your book and have another Listening Meeting.

My team just launched a project that could have whipped the team members and executives into a tremendous conflict. I required everyone to follow your rules for listening and it has been the best implementation we have had in 10years.

Thank you for your generous and comprehensive communications and conflict resolution information.

Angela - Information Technology & Systems VP


'What is a Bully?' Comment on article by Alan which was published on the Mediate.com website

Thank you SO MUCH for this article! It brings forward some very key points about the phenomenon of "bullying" which I have been pondering for some while. Among others, asking to what extent can/should the person on the receiving end of the bullying/perceived to be bullying take responsibility/initiate steps to shift the paradigm? How can this happen without implying that the recipient is somehow responsible for the bullying behavior?

To a certain extent the steps you suggest point to the strategies of NonViolent Communication: Observe and simply describe the behavior, understand and honor your own feelings and needs in the situation, and take responsibility for meeting them by making requests to change the situation.

There has been a significant upsurge of email traffic about bullying in the last year among the members of the Int'l. Ombudsman's Association (principally the academic sector). Much of the exchange, in my view, has tended to favor the stance of "recipient of the behavior as victim," without agency to change the situation, thereby perpetuating the problem and doing a disservice to all. I will be forwarding this article to my colleagues to spice up the conversation!

Laurie McCann, Campus Ombuds, Univ Calif Santa Cruz