October 20th 2021
By: Vicki-Anne Rodrigue

International Conflict Resolution Day

October 21, 2021, Is International Conflict Resolution Day

Since 2005, the third Thursday of October celebrates International Conflict Resolution Day. This initiative was created by the Association for Conflict Resolution to raise awareness of conflict, whether it is family-, neighbourhood-, business-, professional- or social-based, and its impact, especially when it remains unresolved.

What Is Conflict?

Conflict is defined as a state of opposition between people or entities. Conflict is very often charged with emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, sadness, resentment, and disgust. Conflict is usually caused when the need of one person or community is not met by the other. If the conflict is not addressed at the root and the gap is not repaired, it can quickly escalate and degenerate, often causing irreparable damage.

Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace can have a wide range of devastating effects, especially if it is not addressed. Among other things, the negative impacts of conflict can include work disruptions, decreased productivity, low team morale, project failures, poor decision-making, absenteeism, presenteeism, sabotage, equipment destruction, physical and mental health problems, employee turnover, violence (physical and/or psychological), a toxic work environment, and termination. In the longer term, conflict can damage a company’s reputation and bottom line, resulting in lost revenue and difficulty in attracting and retaining talent. Business owners and managers need to be aware of the impact of conflict in the workplace and take steps to remedy the situation before it escalates.

Tips and Tricks Towards Conflict Resolution

If you are faced with a conflict situation and it is possible to talk about it with the person in question, it is always a good idea to risk some discomfort and have the difficult conversation so that you can clarify things. If you are unable to talk about it, consider getting help from your manager or a conflict resolution practitioner, mediator, ombudsman, or consider taking a course in interpersonal communication skills, informal conflict resolution, dealing with difficult behaviours, or social and emotional intelligence. Whenever possible, try to resolve your conflicts informally rather than formally. When more formal mechanisms are used, it is likely that the conflict will escalate. Some of the more formal mechanisms include grievances, tribunal complaints, court actions/litigations, to name a few. Remember also that formal mechanisms tend to be more costly in terms of time, energy, and money. It is always possible to loop back and choose informal mechanisms, such as dialogue, conflict resolution coaching, facilitated discussion, mediation, and group intervention, even if you have already started a formal process.

A Few Parting Words…

In conclusion, I always like to point out that the Chinese symbol for the word conflict is comprised of two characters: one representing danger and the other representing opportunity. The danger of not resolving a conflict can result in a host of negative consequences, as described in the few lines above. On the other hand, conflict also gives us an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, to meet the other person in his or her experience, to recognize their perceptions, expectations, aspirations, concerns, hopes, beliefs, fears and values, and allows us, in turn, to share our perceptions, expectations, aspirations, concerns, hopes, beliefs, fears and values, in order to finally meet and/or fulfill the unmet need that was probably at the root of the dispute. Conflict resolution can only bring peace and allow for both personal growth and the growth of the other individual. Always remember that conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. Conflict can only survive with your participation.

Knowing about how you manage your emotions and those of others’ can go a long way in preventing and/or resolving conflict. Want to know more? Why not try our Emotional Intelligence Test!

Vicki-Anne Rodrigue, M.Ed., CCC

Senior Consultant, Leader and Organizational Development at EPSI