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Conflict Management

Theories and Steps to Resolution through Moderation

In today’s fast-paced work environment, conflicts are inevitable. However, the way we handle these conflicts can make the difference between lasting success and failure for a business. In this article, we explore different conflict styles and methods, before presenting concrete steps for resolving these conflicts through moderation.

Understanding Conflict Theories

Conflicts arise when incompatible behavioral tendencies or interests clash. These can be exacerbated by differences in power relations, resource distribution, and social positions. A classic example is the competition between two departments for a limited budget. To effectively manage conflicts, it’s helpful to understand the five core concerns of confrontations: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role. These aspects play a central role in the dynamics between conflicting parties. Source: Wikipedia: Conflict Theories

Types and Causes of Conflicts

Conflicts can be classified into various categories, including personal, interpersonal, evaluative, judgmental, and distribution conflicts, as well as goal, role, and organizational conflicts. The causes are diverse, ranging from communication problems to resource scarcity, to differing goals and values.

Conflict Styles in Companies

There are various conflict styles that individuals or groups can adopt: avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise, and collaboration. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these styles can help manage conflicts more effectively. Source: Wikipedia: Conflict Styles

Conflict StyleAdvantagesDisadvantages
Avoidance– Prevents escalation in heated situations. – Can buy time to gather information. – Useful when the conflict is unimportant.– Does not solve the problem. – Can lead to misunderstandings. – May be interpreted as weakness.
Accommodation– Promotes cohesion. – Quick solution for minor conflicts. – Shows openness and flexibility.– Own needs are neglected. – Can lead to dissatisfaction. – Risk of being exploited.
Competition– Effective for quick actions. – Useful in important decisions. – Demonstrates strength.– Can damage relationships. – Does not encourage cooperation. – May demotivate.
Compromise– Promotes fairness and cooperation. – Everyone gives something up for a solution. – Useful when mutual gains are possible.– May be seen as unsatisfactory. – Important needs might be overlooked. – Risk that the compromise is not sustainable.
Collaboration– Seeks « win-win » solutions. – Promotes mutual understanding. – Can lead to creative solutions.– Time-consuming and requires open communication. – Difficult without willingness to cooperate. – Requires a high level of trust.


Steps for Conflict Resolution through Moderation

First, it is important to clarify that the facilitation of conflict is only possible when each side is willing to have an open discussion to find a solution. In case a conflict is to strong. I recommend calling a mediator.
In a workshop, make sure to: 
  • Separate the Issue from the Personal: Recognize and separate the factual aspects of a conflict from personal emotions. This helps to focus on solving the problems.
  • Focus on Interests: Instead of focusing on the rigid positions of the conflict parties, explore the underlying interests. Often, there are common interests that can serve as a basis for a solution.
  • Develop Solution Options: Use creative methods to collect as many solution options as possible. This promotes flexibility in thinking and can lead to unexpected, but viable compromises.
  • Decision Based on Objective Criteria: Jointly establish objective criteria by which the found solutions are evaluated. This ensures transparency and fairness in the decision-making process.


Conflicts are an opportunity for growth and development, both for individuals and organizations. By understanding conflict theories and styles and applying targeted resolution steps, constructive conflict management can be promoted. Moderation plays a crucial role by providing a framework in which conflicts can be openly addressed and jointly resolved. Thus, challenges become opportunities to strengthen team dynamics and improve corporate culture.

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