xxxxThroughout our lives, we experience an enormous number of conflicts. Most of these conflicts are based on miscommunication, misunderstanding, cultural differences, poor choice of language, ineffective management styles, unclear roles and responsibilities, false expectations, differences in standards or fluctuating economic conditions. Others originate in racial, cultural or gender differences, marital difficulties, substance abuse, family problems, abrasive or submissive personalities, insensitivity to feelings, personal disappointments, unmet needs, and a thousand other causes and factors which may have nothing to do with our work or the mission of our organizations or our goals or purposes in life.

xxxxThese conflicts can seriously impact the workplace; they can reduce productivity and morale, occupy a great deal of conscious and unconscious attention, create problems for HR and staff, and lead, if uncorrected, to litigation, bitterness, poor morale, high financial costs, wasted time and resources, destructive rumors, loss of valuable employees and reduced opportunities for change.

xxxxUnresolved conflicts at work are extremely time consuming. According to an American Management Association survey, over 25% of an average manager's time is spent resolving staff disputes, and this estimate is far below the experience of most line managers. Yet many of these conflicts are well known to management and employees, yet they are viewed as outside the scope of company policy, or beyond the authority, training or expertise of employees to resolve.

xxxxAdditionally, many of the conflicts in our lives that are settled do not reach the underlying attitudes and emotions that, left unresolved, only emerge later to create new problems in other areas. These negative approaches to conflict can generate a set of attitudes or a culture that is defensive, perceived as biased, and unable see its conflicts as opportunities for improvement, learning and change.

xxxxModern conflict resolution techniques, which are based on principles of active listening, empathy, effective communication, collaborative group process, dialogue, facilitation, interest-based negotiation, bias and prejudice reduction, creative problem solving, impasse resolution and mediation, provide rich opportunities for individuals and organizations to inexpensively and effectively reduce their levels of chronic conflict, create responsive conflict management procedures, train employees and line managers to be peer mediators, and revitalize relationships and morale through the positive redirection and resolution of internal and external conflicts.