Conflict Resolution Skills Definition and Glossary of Terms

MBM Glossaries: Conflict Resolution Skills Definition

This glossary contains our Conflict Management Skills definition and, in particular, a list of terms frequently used in the are of Conflict Management. Meanwhile, for a comprehensive guide on how to better resolve conflicts, check out our free Ultimate Guide to Conflict Resolution Skills.

Active Constructive Response

A type of response to a positive situation wherein the responder positively acknowledges a speaker’s thoughts to convey interest and give importance to the other person’s thoughts. In fact, ACR encourages the speaker to expand on their thoughts through the use of meaningful open-ended questions.

Active Destructive Response

A negative response to a positive situation where the receiver finds fault or negative parts of a story. In fact, while the responder may be using ADR to convey genuine concern for a person, it can ruin morale and devalues a person’s achievements.

Affective Conflict

These are types of conflict with a more personal nature. In particular, they stem from dislikes and personal disagreements of individuals.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

This explores different options available to resolve an issue without escalating to the traditional judiciary route.


Feelings of hatred or hostility towards a person or a group.


Allowing a third party who is, in particular, impartial to the conflict at hand to help affected parties resolve disputes.


Having the confidence to express one’s personality in response to both positive and negative emotions without being aggressive.


When multiple parties come together and pitch in ideas on how to resolve and avoid conflict.


Another pull conflict management style that, in particular, looks for common grounds that can help make connections or ‘bridges’ among conflicting individuals.

Cognitive Conflict

Types of conflict that focuses on problem solving and reasoning. As a result, this makes it easier to resolve than affective conflicts. In particular, they are not backed by emotions, allowing for a more logical approach to solving the issue at hand.

Cognitive Dissonance

When a person has one or two ideas, values, or beliefs that are in direct conflict with each other, it results in psychological stress. In particular,  Cognitive Dissonance is the discomfort brought about by the clashing of contradicting perceptions of an individual.


When two or more parties agree on a middle ground where both can have some wins while giving up other wants.


The result of differences in a team or organisation. In fact, when utilised correctly, healthy conflict is constructive and can encourage change and push for innovation. Meanwhile, mismanaged conflict can lead to discord and demotivation.

Conflict Dynamics Profile

CDP is a tool used, in particular, to evaluate and provide constructive feedback on a person’s behaviour.

Conflict Intensity Level

The five levels of conflict that identify how a conflict develops as it escalates and how it affects parties involved.

Conflict Management Skills

Refers to a set of skills that allows an individual to constructively handle conflict or potential conflict. In fact, Conflict Management training courses are usually given to leaders or potential managerial roles to help them understand how to diffuse and use conflict to their team’s advantage.

Conflict Resolution Training

Training Courses designed to help employees and leaders resolve conflict and use it to their advantage when possible.

Constructive Criticism

Feedback that focuses on the improvement or potential positive changes. In particular, Constructive criticism is helpful in avoiding conflict while improving employee engagement.

Constructive Responses

Responses to a conflict that centres on the issues to help de-escalate and reduce tension among parties.


How a person is trusted and how trustworthy his opinions are on a given topic or field of study.

Destructive Responses

Responses during an argument that focuses on people and personalities involved. As a result, it worsens a conflict.


The first level of conflict intensity. In particular, Differences refer to the tack of similarity of common ground between individuals. In fact, since people are shaped by the many unique experiences in their life, it is inevitable to encounter others with differing opinions, beliefs, and ways of approaching work. Nevertheless, this level of conflict has very little to no effect on productivity.


The second level of conflict intensity. In particular, when two or more individuals fail to agree and see a situation differently. Often, the differing opinions can lead to change and innovation.


The fourth level of conflict in a group where members begin to negatively criticise and avoid each other. Usually, this may interfere with their functions as a team, as communication is limited and both parties are not willing to clear misunderstandings.

Dynamic Conflict Model

In a book by Tim Flanagan and Craig Runde in 2007, they created the Dynamic Conflict Model that breaks down conflict into two categories: effective and cognitive conflict.

Emotional Awareness

An individual’s ability to understand his or her emotions logically as well as those around him or her. Consequently, this enables a constructive reaction that can improve the situation or prevent escalation of a conflict.


This pull style uses the change of environment to encourage participants to also change their perspective and become more open to suggestion. Of course, this can work in conjunction with other influencing styles.


A conflict resolution style that bargains with individuals or parties to comply. In particular, this can be in the form of incentives, promotion, or other favours.


A push style where threats and punishments are used when a goal is not achieved.


An intended result that a team or individual works towards.


The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument is a psychometric test. It helps identify how an individual prefers to react when faced with conflict.

Hot Buttons

Emotional triggers that elicit intense reactions. It can be a need, a problem, or a pain point.


In conflict resolution, influencing refers to winning over an employee or a team to work efficiently and towards a common goal. There are many types of influencing that can be used in different situations.


A new or better solution to an existing need. Innovation arises from identifying areas of improvement and improving on current practices and approaches.

Joint Problem Solving

A pull style that brings together conflicting parties to discuss, identify and resolve a problem as a team.

Logical Argument Mapping

LAM is a technique that breaks down and documents an conflict to further understand and turn it into a logical argument and encourage self-reflection and promote negotiation.


When conflicts or disputes reach a stalemate, an unbiased third party helps resolve a conflict.


The result when communication fails. This is the second level of conflict intensity where a situation is interpreted differently by individuals.


Morale or ‘Esprit de corps’, is the level of motivation, belief, and confidence a collective group has for their team.


When two parties communicate back and forth each party’s desires and goals until they reach a mutually agreeable outcome.

Organisational Justice

When leaders use fair processes to approach problems in the workplace. This gives employees a sense of fairness and justice.

Personal Magnetism

A pull style that involves an influencer using his/her personality or charisma to help foster fluid communication between conflicting parties.

Refractory Period

A point in the retaliatory cycle wherein strong emotions greatly influence people and can cloud logical decisions. Learning how to take control of these emotions can shorten this period and allow for logical conflict resolution.

Retaliatory Cycle

A conflict model developed by Runde and Flanagan in 2007. It explores how a conflict escalates and how it repeats itself.

Rules and Standards

Another push style that makes use of agreements, contracts, and other rules to coerce involved parties to follow procedure.


The Fifth level of conflict intensity. In this scenario, it is not only difficult for teams to function properly, but they also begin to negatively react to each other and recruit other people with similar beliefs.

Personality Traits

These are dominant traits, preferences, and biases that individuals have. These traits can be determined by psychometric exams such as MBTI and HBDI.

Pull Influencing

A conflict management style that encourages parties to collaborate and understand the benefits of fixing the conflict. This allows everyone involved to give their input on how to diffuse and avoid conflict.

Push Influencing

This conflict management style ‘pushes’ involved parties to change by implementing punishments or consequences with failure and incentives with success. While it may receive quick results, it does not stick in the long term.

Team Culture

The collective beliefs, ideas, and expectations of a team. Individual attitudes, behaviours, and unspoken norms define how teams work towards their common goals. Team culture can be positive or negative.

Unresolved Conflict

Occurs when a conflict is not addressed by both parties. This can lead to misunderstandings or remorse that can escalate over time.


A pull conflict resolution style where parties involved imagine what the situation would be like if a resolution is achieved. This style is meant to inspire and bring conflicting parties closer.

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