There was this recent newspaper report of a murder committed in cold blood simply because the main accused to the crime stirred up conflict within a group of people. Some verbal altercations between the victim and the main accused over a cricket ball led to the accused rushing back to his galli and provoking the youth there. And so, the entire episode was given a communal colour and the victim was beaten to death in front of his family members.

Max Lucado, a famous best-selling author and writer says, “Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.”

That’s so true! As long as you and I exist on the face of this planet, we are sure to encounter conflicts of different sorts. But, how we respond to it and how effectively we manage the conflict before us makes all the difference.

There are three categories of people present in a scene of conflict. The first group, who provoke others to join in. The second group, who pacify the agitating bunch. And the third group who choose to be mere neutral bystanders.

The wise king Solomon says that a person who stirs up conflict in a community is detested by God Almighty. Here community refers to a social group. And, any person who incites ill-feelings among a group of persons is no less than a liar, a deceiver or a murderer. Compare the magnitude of it all!

The American philosopher and motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” Absolutely true! Be it a conflict between just two individuals or two groups, if you and I learn to step back many a conflict can be averted.

So then if conflict is inevitable, how do we define our role in places where conflict is imminent? Here are some techniques to resolve conflict and not allow it to snowball into disproportionate measures.

Techniques for Conflict Resolution

  1. Avoidance – Refuse to be involved when provoked. Getting involved in certain types of conflicts can be out rightly avoided. The conflict would fizzle out without your involvement. So, just don’t get entangled.
  2. Conciliation – Rather than choosing to get involved, opt for a compromise. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to compromise your values or principles. Some mutual give-and-take interactions help douse the fire that ignites conflict.
  3. Accommodation – There are some conflicting situations which are better resolved if one of the parties to the conflict yields to the demands of the other party. This type of conflict resolution is mostly seen when aggrieved workers agitate against the union.

Higher Order Skills required for Conflict Resolution

Do you know most conflicts arise when one group perceives deprivation of some sort (whether justly or unjustly)? And so, in a typical Indian scenario we see women at the tube-well at conflict as to who should place the bucket first; caste groups in conflict over their rights and privileges; religions in conflict leading to large-scale violence and bloodshed; even business tycoons in conflict. This widespread prevalence of conflict across all socio-economic classes and cultures testifies the fact that conflict is universal. Why take only the Indian example – look at Zimbabwe or Myanmar or for that matter even at the U.S. All these countries deal with conflict and violence – only that the nature of conflict is different at different places.

Conflict is a function of higher order mental processes and hence, conflict resolution too entails higher order brain processing. Some skills required to resolve conflict and prevent it to escalate to humongous levels can be enlisted as follows –

  1. Understanding others’ perspectives – Many a times understanding the viewpoints of others averts conflicts. Failure to understand escalates matters and leads to disastrous consequences.
  2. Assertiveness – Sometimes, it is required that you put your foot down and do not yield to the conflict provoking person or circumstance
  3. Patient Listening – Only when you listen patiently can you understand others and their viewpoints.
  4. Empathy – Try to empathize with the affected party and see reason to the whole issue rather than joining in mindless conflict

Always remember the 3 DO NOTs:

  • DO NOT stir up conflict
  • DO NOT allow yourself to be dragged into a situation of conflict
  • If you feel you cannot help resolve the conflict, DO NOT get involved

Author’s Bio: Rajnandini Sahu has done her Post Graduation in Clinical and Counselling Psychology and is presently working as a Counsellor in a school, apart from pursuing higher studies. She can be contacted at ‘‘.