Understand the 8 Methods of Resolving Conflict:

Conflict is an everyday part of life in the UK Grocery Industry. Discounters are growing. New stores are hard to come by. Employees want salary raises. Bosses want bonuses. Shoppers expect value for money. Resolving conflict is, therefore, an essential part of life in the UK Grocery Industry. Here are 8 Methods of conflict resolution – Do you know all your options?

8 Methods of resolving conflict infographic - MBM

The different ways to resolve conflict

1. Resolving Conflict: Unilateral Decision

No, we’re not giving in, that’s it’. We’ve all heard the stories of a big brand and a supermarket getting to the point where one has made a decision to delist the product or stop supply of the product until the other party yields.

  • Advantage: Shows strength and resolve.
  • Disadvantage: The other party may call your bluff and it is not good for long-term relationships.

2. Resolving Conflict: Persuasion

‘It’s a no-brainer, you should do it’. Persuading someone to do something that they may not want to do is undoubtedly a skill that can be learnt.  To illustrate, some top tips from the experts are, 1. Actively listen to their point, 2. Find common ground, and 3. Use the power of ‘because’.

  • Advantage: It’s free.
  • Disadvantage: Success is usually low unless you are a persuasive master!

3. Resolving Conflict: Haggling/Bartering

‘I’ll meet you halfway’. Most of us haggle when we go to the markets, where it is the norm. In the UK we sometimes haggle when we want to agree on something and we believe we are negotiating, but we are not, we are haggling.

  • Advantage: Haggling is a sound method for conflict resolution, but don’t believe that it is negotiating.
  • Disadvantage: It will cost you ‘meeting halfway’.

4. Resolving Conflict: Arbitration

‘Ok, let’s ask them for their opinion’. Not something we hear much of in the UK Grocery Industry unless the ‘Competitions and Markets Authority’ are involved. Occasionally you might hear, ‘Let’s get another perspective on this’, which is very valid.

  • Advantage: An effective method of resolving a conflict.
  • Disadvantage: You might lose because it is 50:50.

5. Resolving Conflict: Postponement

‘We’ll come back to this at the next meeting with a plan’. Our observations of learners on our negotiation skills training course, for instance, is that most people looking to resolve a conflict opt for agreeing that a plan will be presented at the next meeting. This is usually a postponement where the two parties come back to the original points once again, with, again little resolution.

  • Advantage: Sometimes a postponement allows people to ‘cool off’ and/or revisit the problem another way.
  • Disadvantage: Postponements that are used to get away from dealing with the problem are not useful to resolving the conflict.

6. Resolving Conflict: Problem Solve

‘I’ve got an idea, how about if we…?’. Problem-solving is where the majority of conflict resolution takes place.

  • Advantage: A mutually beneficial solution is a great way to solve conflict because both parties usually win.
  • Disadvantage: You may not find a suitable solution for both parties and it requires both parties to want to problem solve.

7. Resolving Conflict: Total Surrender

‘Ok, we’ll agree to the deal’. Total Surrender is where one party gives in to the other party by giving up, waving the white flag and agreeing to the other party’s demands.

  • Advantage: The advantages of this method are limited; as a result, they are likely reduced to the chance that you might get some payback in a later deal.
  • Disadvantage: You lose the lot!

8. Resolving Conflict: Negotiation

‘If you…then I…’. This tool is very simple and is a must in any negotiators’ toolbox. If you do something for me, then I will do something for you. We see negotiating as trading. Yes, there’ s a lot more to it. Essentially, therefore, it is about ‘giving to get’. Trading what you have for what they have to get and aiming for a win:win outcome.

  • Advantage: Both parties can win.
  • Disadvantage: The better negotiator gets more. So for that reason, our ‘Negotiating with Buyers‘ Masterclass will help!

Which one of the above options do you use most? Please share your view by commenting below.

For further information, you can find our Ultimate Guide to Conflict Resolution Skills here.

Feel free to get in touch. Simply fill out the form below or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to get back to you with further information.

Slideshare of this post – 8 Methods of Conflict resolution by Darren A. Smith

Darren A. Smith

About Darren A. Smith

Darren has been working in the world of UK Supermarkets & Suppliers for over 25 years. He began his career as a buyer at big 4 UK supermarkets and after 13 years he decided to leave to set-up Making Business Matter because he wanted to help suppliers and supermarkets to work better together.


  • Bradley Hutchins says:

    I personally tend to use negotiation the most however I have found that sometimes the larger and perhaps stronger companies tend to get more of a say and get to reach a decision which benefits them maybe slightly more. However I would say this is probably the most effective method as it means that both parties are aiming to win in their eyes, buy ‘giving to get’.

  • Liam Green says:

    Great article, I try to use persuasion the most as I would consider it a skill of mine so success is usually attained. However when it isn’t successful, it can be a great loss so I will probably try to do more negotiation in the future.

  • Rajpal Bhattel says:

    Problem solving is key. But both parties need to have the same view, to be able to solve their issues at a mutually beneficial way. Really good article! +++

  • shepherd tembo says:

    I go for negotiation because i see it to work for me and qualifieble .

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