Whenever I am presenting or training, one of the best ways to explain a concept is by having a great visual. Every business needs to have a process by which conflicts can be addressed and, hopefully, resolved. The following chart clearly shows the dynamics for the various types of resolution processes and their impact on the individuals in the areas of:

• individual power
• importance of relationship
• levels of coercion on the disputants

If you recall in the previous articles, conflicts usually stem from needs, interests, or values of the people involved. So when you are selecting a type of conflict resolution process for your business to use, it is very important to understand the impact that system can have on your staff, your business, your customers, and on sustaining the employee culture of your company.


In the above chart, we begin with choosing the type of conflict resolution process starting with Direct Negotiation to Litigation. In these different process models the arrows below the process type show the interaction of the disputants. The models fall into two categories of resolution processes of participation generated resolution, and imposed resolution. The bottom of the chart shows the impact of these two models on the disputants.

Participation Generated Resolution impact provides:
• More power of the individual
• More importance of the relationship
• Less Coercion on the disputant

Imposed Resolution impact provides:
• Less power of the individual
• Less importance of the relationship
• More coercion on the disputant

So, for example, in the extreme case of litigation, you have a 12 person jury, two attorneys (minimally) and a judge which can certainly impact the coercion level of the disputants!!!! Believe me when I say, that my personal experience with imposed resolution has shown me that the coercion level in this process of litigation is not something I would wish on even my biggest competitor.

It is important for any business owner to address how you and your company will be dealing with conflict issues with personnel, clients, or vendors. It can save you time, energy, lost productivity, and thousands of hard earned profits in the long run.

About Your Columnist

Michelle Burkart is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers negotiation and conflict resolution. Currently, Michelle is the owner of TH!NKresolution, where she is a credentialed mediator; Hearing Officer for the San Diego Housing Commission; Member of the San Diego Superior Court Mediation panel as well as the NCRC Commercial Mediation Panel. Michelle manages and conducts business mediation services for TH!NKresolution to include pre-contract facilitation, contract disputes, personnel issues, conflict coaching and training, family business disputes, government agency disputes, and caregiver mediation.

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