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Conflict resolution: 4 types of conflicts & 7 conflict management tips

Where many people are together, a conflict can quickly arise. However, with the right methods and tips and good conflict management or conflict resolution, it can be resolved just as quickly. We explain how you can resolve conflicts as quickly as possible.

Whether private or professional – conflicts can occur anywhere where several people meet. However, the decisive factor is not that conflicts arise at all, because that is completely normal, but how you solve them as quickly as possible. We present the best methods.

Recognizing Conflicts

Here’s how to recognize conflicts

Conflicts can occur in any situation in life. They exist both personally and professionally, in education, and you can even be in conflict with yourself.

In disagreements, misunderstandings and misbehavior they arise and can destroy years of friendships, acquaintances and love relationships.

To avoid this, you should recognize serious conflicts early and eliminate them so that a harmonious coexistence is possible.

Conflicts usually arise subliminally, without being specifically expressed. In many cases, they begin with a feeling that something might be wrong – a subliminal tension that can be felt but remains unspoken. However, there are also certain characteristics by which you can recognize a conflict in your environment.

Conflicts often express themselves in a certain way of communication. The conflicting parties can either ignore each other or talk about each other behind closed doors.

Also perceivable disinterest or a lack of information flow can signal conflicts. If the conflicting parties no longer support each other and only communicate when it is unavoidable, there is probably a conflict.

Stages of escalation of conflict

Escalation stages of conflicts

Conflicts can occur in different life situations and have numerous causes, yet they often proceed in very similar ways. Generally, conflicts are divided into nine escalation stages.

Particularly well known is the phase model of escalation according to Friedrich Glasl, which helps to analyze conflicts in more detail.

Although especially private and professional conflicts can often be settled already in low escalation levels, it comes on the world political level again and again to the total escalation, which expresses itself for example in brutal wars.

  1. Hardening: A conflict is slowly brewing, in that there are always disagreements. Regularly it comes to annoyance and irritability.
  2. Debate: The parties to the conflict exchange views and try to convince each other of their opinion. Often arises in the process dispute.
  3. Actions instead of words: In this phase, the conflict already intensifies significantly. The parties to the conflict break off the talks. The own opinion is to be enforced at all costs and on the conflict partner is no longer taken into account.
  4. Coalitions: The parties are looking for allies in this phase and represent the conflict partner negatively to convince others of their opinion. Often, this phase is already no longer about the disagreement itself, but only about winning the conflict.
  5. Loss of face: The parties to the conflict accuse each other of constant misconduct in order to strengthen their own position. The parties fundamentally distrust each other.
  6. Threat strategies: This phase is characterized by concrete threats to demonstrate power to the other party. Radical demands leave the conflict partner hardly any options for action, as serious consequences are threatened.
  7. Limited annihilation: The conflict parties try to seriously harm each other. Man is no longer seen as a sentient being, but exclusively as an opponent. Even if not only the opponent, but also the own party comes to harm, this is already considered a success, provided that the own damage is smaller than that of the opponent.
  8. Splintering: The opponent should be destroyed in this phase with all means.
  9. Together into the abyss: The victory over the opponent has top priority, even if their own destruction will inevitably follow.

Definition of conflict resolution

Conflict resolution refers to strategies that help resolve a conflict. Conflict resolution strategies range from models of phases through which a conflict must pass until it is resolved, to communication techniques and conflict management methods, to mediation.

They are particularly often used for conflict management in companies, for example as part of a conflict management system.

Types of conflict

These types of conflict exist

Not every conflict is the same. There can be very different aspects in the focus of a conflict. There can be different reasons and issues that trigger a conflict.

The parties to the conflict can also differ considerably from each other. For example, you can have conflicts with your life partner, your boss, a colleague, and even yourself. As different as the conflicts are, they also need to be resolved differently.

Relationship Conflicts

Relationship conflicts occur quite often. Sometimes you meet people who are just not sympathetic to you and irritate you with their ways. There can be myriad reasons for your dislike, such as when you don’t like a fellow human being’s choice of words.

Target conflicts

Conflicting goals occur when two parties who should be working toward the same goal have different goals. This is often true in the workplace, for example, when your boss demands a productive work ethic but employees advocate less stress.

In relationships, too, differing goals can put a strain on the partnership. For example, if your partner wants to start a family soon, but you’re not ready for that step, it can lead to a conflict of principles.

Distribution conflicts

Conflict type: Distribution conflicts

Distribution conflicts are often accompanied by envy. One party to the conflict feels unfairly treated by the other. In most cases, a third party plays a role in the conflict, which seems to be treated preferentially.

A typical distribution conflict at the workplace arises, for example, when a colleague receives a salary increase, but you do not. In these cases, envy and jealousy often result.

Subject or appraisal conflict

Here, the parties to the conflict are working toward the same goal, but they want to achieve it by different means. The parties hold different opinions and must work out the conflict.

This type of conflict can actually be beneficial because the parties are forced to come to terms with new points of view. This type of conflict can also often be resolved quickly.

Conflict resolution with these tips

Regretful man husband apologizing upset woman wife

Conflict resolution with these tips

Once you’ve identified a conflict, it’s important to resolve it as quickly as possible. If you are involved in the conflict yourself, you should try to approach the matter objectively.

However, if you want to mediate the conflict as an outsider, you can act as a mediator who mediates between the parties.

Having a Conflict Talk

The first step in resolving conflict is to have a conflict conversation. Under no circumstances should you let the dispute go.

You need to voice your emotions so that you can come to terms with the conflict. Even though you can express your feelings, you should always treat the other party respectfully.

Let the other person finish, even if you don’t agree with him and would like to contradict him. Do not become insulting or personal.

Tip: Instead of focusing on the differences in viewpoints, you should rather emphasize commonalities so that you can find a solution that is satisfactory for all parties to the conflict.

Communicate with each other

Communicate with each other

Communication is the key to resolving a conflict. Only if you talk to the conflicting party, you can resolve the conflict.

However, for successful communication, the conflict parties should establish a few rules of conversation so that the conflict conversation does not end in an argument. The most important rules are:

  • Let the other person finish speaking
  • Avoid insults
  • Do not give unsolicited advice
  • Take consideration

These rules can help ensure a respectful conflict conversation that leads to conflict resolution and treats all parties involved equally fairly.

Respect the opinion of the other person

Just as you hold a certain opinion, your counterpart has the right to hold a certain position, even if it disagrees with you.

You should show understanding and ask the reasons so that you can perhaps even understand your counterpart’s attitude. In this way, you can come closer together even though you have different points of view.

Do not accuse the other party to the conflict of being the cause of the conflict. Most of the time, both parties are equally to blame. If you know the other person’s intentions, you may be better able to overcome feelings of envy, resentment, and dislike so that the conflict dissipates.

Conflict Resolution Skills

Recognize conflict points

Before conflict resolution can occur, the points of conflict must first be identified. Try to identify the root causes.

Ask yourself why this conflict arose and what role you played in it. What are the differences in your positions? What is causing the potential for conflict?

To find the causes, you need to listen carefully to your counterpart’s opinion and compare it with your position. Only when the causes have been clarified can conflict be resolved.

Take responsibility for conflict resolution

Take responsibility

In doing so, you should also take responsibility. Ask yourself where you made mistakes and even contributed to creating conflict.

At the same time, you should also question your own position. Are your views justified?

After hearing your counterpart’s opinion and his or her motivations, you may even back away from your position and be more able to understand his or her opinion. It is important that you admit your wrongdoing in this case.

Seek conflict resolution

Once you’ve listened to the conflicting party’s point of view and expressed your own opinion, you’ve probably already been able to identify the points of conflict. Then you move on to conflict resolution.

Try to think about different approaches to a solution. Perhaps you can combine different solutions and find a compromise, so that everyone is satisfied with the solution.

In some cases, you will have to approach the other person more than your conflict partner approaches you, for example if it is your boss who is hierarchically above you. At best, however, you will find a solution with which both parties are satisfied.

Open yourself up to new things

Open yourself up to new things

In some cases, it can be difficult to step back from your own position and look beyond your previous thinking for possible solutions.

Perhaps you have prejudices against a certain concept and are biased, so that you are skeptical about a certain position from the beginning.

If this is true, you should definitely counteract it. Not only will it be more difficult to resolve the conflict, you will also have a harder time moving forward in life.

Therefore, try to open yourself to new things, be less skeptical of innovations and other opinions, and listen to positions neutrally before forming an opinion.

Conflict management at work

Conflict management in the workplace

Disagreements and the associated conflicts occur time and again, especially in the workplace.

Conflict management focuses on the triggers of these conflicts and avoids them in the future, in order to keep the potential for conflict low.

In most cases, conflicts have a special contact person who is trained in conflict management and helps to resolve the conflict. This way, escalation can be avoided and conflicts can be resolved quickly.

In general, two methods are specifically suited for conflict resolution: mediation and supervision. While mediation is particularly suitable for an acute conflict, supervision helps to prevent possible conflicts.


In mediation, a mediator is used to mediate between the conflicting parties. However, this only works if the parties to the conflict voluntarily agree to resolve the conflict. The parties come together under these circumstances and negotiate the problem.

The mediator does not advocate any specific position, but remains neutral and ensures arespectful discussion atmosphere. The conflict partners must approach each other on their own and find a solution to the conflict together.


Conflict resolution: Supervision

Supervision is based on counseling that helps eliminate structural problems to prevent conflict. In doing so, the supervisor addresses the individual employees and analyzes the behavior of the group.

In this way, he or she can identify which situations and behavior patterns have conflict potential and work with those affected to restructure them.

It is important to determine exactly how the process will work at the beginning so that both the supervisor and the potential conflict parties are comfortable with the process.

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