5 Conflict Resolution Skills Leaders Need

By Ron Stefanski

Updated Over a Week Ago

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Conflict resolution skills will allow you to deal with any issues and build a strong team that works well together.

Studies show that up to 85% of employees in a company experience conflict at one time or another. Once conflict arises, it’s up to you as the manager to resolve the disputes between individuals in your organization.

Having well-developed conflict resolution skills will make it more likely that you’ll be able to smooth over the disputes that often occur when people come together for collaboration or problem-solving purposes.

Without effective ways to facilitate the resolution of conflicts at work, you’ll end up with a distracted team whose members experience low motivation, frustration, and anger – all of which lead to a decrease in productivity.

Read the rest of this article to discover five skills you can develop to help you resolve conflicts in the workplace.

1. Communication

Communication is first on our list of conflict-resolution skills for a very good reason. It’s the very best way to resolve a conflict. When you have a proactive communication strategy, it makes it easier for you to understand the heart of the problem so you can work to develop a solution that works for everyone.

One of the most important things you must do when resolving conflicts is to gather input from the team when decisions are made instead of exercising control.

You also need to pay attention to nonverbal communication.

Not all people are equipped with the skills to handle conflict head-on, and some would typically lean toward avoiding conflict or accommodating conflict management styles.

It’s not always transparent what these individuals want or need, and that’s why you should pay attention to any nonverbal communication they offer, including:

  • Eye contact
  • Posture
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Tone of voice
  • Body language

In addition to communication, the observation skill will allow you to find accommodations for the team when it’s not a high priority to promote peace and ease.

A keen sense of observation will also allow you to notice issues as soon as they arise (sometimes even before) so you can take care of them before they grow into something bigger. Often, problems start small and can be solved without much damage as long as they don’t go unchecked.

Also, it’s essential to keep in mind that relationships between the individuals involved in workplace conflict won’t always go back to normal after the problem has been resolved.

As a leader, you may need to help nurture the relationship even after a solution is found to prevent any future issues.

This means you should keep the lines of communication open between all parties involved so you can help foster a healthy long-term relationship after the conflict.

Conflict Resolution Skills and Emotional Intelligence

2. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the conflict resolution skill that allows one to perceive and understand your emotions and those of other people.

This skill is crucial when managing and resolving conflicts because it can help you prevent situations from escalating.

Anytime you can effectively interpret the emotions of your opposition, you’ll not only have an easier time communicating with them, but you’ll also be able to do so without provoking them.

Emotional intelligence will also help you recognize and curtail any confusion, frustration, and anger that might arise from the conflict, allowing everyone involved the space to think logically and creatively about possible solutions.

Be Fair and Empathetic

3. Fairness and Empathy

Empathy is the conflict resolution skill that gives you the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can share their feelings and experiences.

Having empathy can help you encourage compromise during the conflict resolution process. This means that you mustn’t point fingers or jump on the offensive, as this will create a negative foundation that will make it nearly impossible for you to find an amicable solution.

Don’t assign blame, but let each party explain themselves. Maintain a calm tone and show that you’re willing to compromise and collaborate.

In addition to empathy, you also need the skill of fairness. Being impartial is crucial to your ability to mediate any disputes in the workplace successfully. To do this effectively, you must stay focused on the issue at hand and steer the conversation back to the conflict itself when others start to veer away (e.g., when someone refers to past problems).

Previous grievances may come up that developed over time between the parties involved. Still, it’s up to you to keep the focus on the problem at hand (although there are times when you may need to resolve the historical issues before you can come up with a solution for the current situation).

Leading with Patience

4. Patience

Without patience, any leader will have a hard time resolving disputes in the workplace. No one likes to be wrong, and people often dig in and fight harder to express their point of view on the issue when they begin the conflict resolution process.

This means you must develop the skill of patience if you hope to resolve conflicts in such situations.

Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Keep in mind that the issue may not be solved right away (even if the solution seems obvious to you).
  • Take the time to listen to every participant and value each of their arguments evenly.
  • When you do come to a solution, make sure that nobody involved feels like they were left out of the decision-making process.
Conflict Resolution Skill of Listening

5. Active Listening

Active listening is a conflict resolution skill that is crucial to master if you create a collaborative culture that allows your team to resolve conflict independently. The skill of active listening requires that you have open ears and an open mind.

Practicing deep listening will help you find the root of the issue so you have an easier time working with the team to find an amicable resolution to the problem.

Active listening is all about being attentive to what the other people involved in the conversation have to say. But, for the most part, it’s hard to sit and listen – really listen – to someone, as opposed to simply waiting for a chance to interrupt them so you can present your point of view.

Here are a few tips to help you become a better active listener:

  • Take note of the phrasing used by the other person
  • Respond using the same wording to demonstrate that you are listening and avoid any confusion about the issues being discussed.
  • Ask questions when you’re not 100% clear about a point
  • Focus on identifying the other person/people’s goals

The better you are at active listening, the easier it will be to gather the information to smoother your conflict resolution process.

Shaking Hands After Resolving a Conflict

The Conflict Resolution Skills Building Process

The process for resolving conflicts is simple. Although it can fluctuate depending on the situation you’re in. It ultimately comes down to the following five steps that you can implement and tweak according to your needs.

Step 1: Address the Problem

The first step is to acknowledge a conflict that needs to be addressed. It would help if you had open and honest communication, and all parties involved must recognize that there is an issue that must be overcome.

Step 2: Listen

You must be open and empathetic to all the information you receive. Avoid being biased toward one side or another.

This is a crucial step in the process, and at this point, there will likely be uncomfortable emotions that your employees need to share. Your role will be pivotal in helping you develop a bond of trust between leadership and team members so everyone can begin to fix the issues at hand.

Step 3: Brainstorm Solutions

Your next step is to think about possible solutions to the problem and evaluate which one is best.

To help you do this effectively, you must ask questions and get the people involved to clearly define the problem and provide possible solutions that will benefit everyone involved.

Step 4: Find a Compromise

At this point, you have enough information and possible solutions to decide what would be the most effective way forward. You’ve discussed all possible solutions with your employees, and it’s up to you to choose the best one that takes everyone’s needs into account.

Step 5: Create a Plan to Follow up

Finally, you must make a plan to follow up on the conflict to ensure that all parties involved adhere to the chosen solution and that there aren’t any additional or unforeseen problems that arise from that same issue.

While conflict mediation and resolution are often conducted in person, the follow-ups can be performed virtually as part of a webinar or video conference. Using these tools, you can check in with all parties involved or schedule one-on-one sessions to see how each party is feeling.

While conflict mediation and resolution are often conducted in person, the follow-ups can be performed virtually as part of a webinar or video conference. Using these tools, you can check in with all parties involved or schedule one-on-one sessions to see how each party is feeling.

Additionally, you can automate emails using email marketing tools your company is already using to check in on all the parties and send them surveys at predetermined times to assess whether the conflict resolution has been successful.

Step 6: Prevent Future Conflicts

The best way to resolve a conflict is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Suppose you notice recurring conflicts because of misunderstandings about roles, responsibilities, and the like. In that case, there are various tools you can use to make sure everyone understands what they are supposed to do.

Many companies are now creating a database of resources they can use as needed. Some of these will undoubtedly include information about work-related tasks. Still, you can also create courses about meditation, stress reduction techniques, increasing emotional intelligence, fostering empathy, and other skills that will help people to reduce conflict.

Of course, the best way to prevent conflicts is by ensuring that you have an open-door policy in place so people can express grievances privately and find a solution to any conflict before formal conflict resolution is required.


Leadership plays a huge role in the workplace with regard to assisting in conflict resolution for things to run at the utmost efficiency.

Luckily, the skills required can be honed to help you achieve positive results to stop avoiding conflict and lead through it instead.

Just keep in mind that conflict resolution isn’t a one-and-done solution. It’s also not a one-size-fits-all approach.

However, the basic premise is the same. Use the tips outlined in this article to improve your skills as a leader. You’ll become a lot more effective at addressing the issues in your organization and brainstorming solutions that are ideal for everyone involved.

Over to you. Do you think possessing the skills outlined in this article will improve your ability to resolve conflicts more effectively? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Ron Stefanski
Ron Stefanski
Ron Stefanski is a website entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online businesses. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com.
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