How to Resolve a Conflict Where Both Sides Are Right

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How to Resolve a Conflict Where Both Sides Are Right

In the realm of leadership and executive management, one of the most intricate challenges is navigating conflicts where both parties have valid points. These conflicts demand not only a deep understanding of conflict resolution techniques but also a nuanced approach to mediation. This article will delve into advanced strategies for resolving such conflicts, drawing on expert opinions and relevant research to provide a comprehensive guide.

Conflict resolution meetingby Dylan Gillis (

Understanding the Complexity of Dual Validity

Conflicts where both sides are right typically stem from deeply held beliefs, values, or perspectives. These situations are not merely about finding a middle ground but about understanding the underlying motivations and concerns of each party. Here, we explore why these conflicts are particularly challenging and how recognizing the legitimacy of each side is the first step towards resolution.

The Nature of Dual Validity

Dual validity conflicts often arise in environments where high stakes and diverse viewpoints intersect. For instance, in project management, a Project Manager (PMP) may face a situation where both the technical team and the business stakeholders have valid concerns about a project’s direction. The technical team might emphasize the importance of robust, scalable solutions, while the business stakeholders might prioritize time-to-market and cost efficiency.

The Psychological Underpinnings

Research in organizational psychology suggests that such conflicts are compounded by cognitive biases and emotional investments. Confirmation bias, for example, can lead individuals to favor information that supports their existing beliefs, while the sunk cost fallacy can make it difficult to abandon a particular course of action.

Advanced Conflict Resolution Techniques

Resolving conflicts where both sides are right requires a sophisticated toolkit of conflict resolution techniques. Here, we outline several advanced strategies that can help emerging leaders navigate these complex scenarios.

Mediation processby Angelina Litvin (

Active Listening and Empathy

Active listening and empathy are foundational to conflict resolution. However, in dual validity conflicts, these skills must be taken to a higher level. Leaders must not only listen to the expressed concerns but also seek to understand the unspoken fears and aspirations that drive these concerns. This involves asking probing questions, reflecting back what has been heard, and validating each party’s feelings and perspectives.

Interest-Based Negotiation

Interest-based negotiation, also known as integrative negotiation, focuses on the underlying interests of the parties rather than their initial positions. This technique, pioneered by Fisher and Ury in their seminal work “Getting to Yes,” involves identifying the fundamental needs and desires that are motivating each side. By addressing these core interests, leaders can often find creative solutions that satisfy both parties.

Facilitating Open Dialogue

Creating a safe and open environment for dialogue is crucial. Leaders should establish ground rules that encourage respectful communication and discourage adversarial behavior. Techniques such as the “circle of voices,” where each participant has an equal opportunity to speak without interruption, can be particularly effective.

Mediation Techniques for Executive Leaders

In scenarios where conflicts cannot be resolved through direct negotiation, mediation can be an invaluable tool. Here, we explore some advanced mediation techniques that executive leaders can employ.

Executive mediationby Hunters Race (

Shuttle Diplomacy

Shuttle diplomacy involves the mediator moving between the parties, facilitating communication and negotiation without the parties having to meet face-to-face. This technique can be particularly useful in high-tension situations where direct interaction might exacerbate the conflict.


Caucusing involves private meetings between the mediator and each party. These sessions allow the mediator to explore each party’s concerns in depth, gather confidential information, and develop a better understanding of the underlying issues. This technique can help the mediator craft solutions that are acceptable to both sides.


Reframing is a powerful technique that involves changing the way a situation or statement is perceived. By helping parties see the conflict from a different perspective, leaders can often reduce the emotional intensity of the dispute and open the door to new solutions. For example, reframing a “win-lose” scenario as a “win-win” opportunity can shift the focus from competition to collaboration.

Real-World Applications and Case Studies

To illustrate the practical application of these techniques, let’s examine a real-world case study. Consider a technology company facing a conflict between its engineering and marketing departments. The engineering team insists on a prolonged development cycle to ensure product quality, while the marketing team pushes for a rapid launch to capitalize on market trends.

Case Study Analysis

By employing active listening and empathy, the company’s leadership was able to uncover the core concerns of each team. The engineers were primarily worried about potential post-launch failures, while the marketers were focused on beating competitors to market.

Using interest-based negotiation, the leadership facilitated a series of dialogues where each team could express their underlying interests. This process revealed that both teams were ultimately concerned with the company’s long-term success.


The resolution involved a phased launch approach, where a minimum viable product (MVP) would be released early to gather market feedback, followed by iterative improvements based on engineering’s stringent quality standards. This compromise addressed the core interests of both teams, demonstrating the effectiveness of advanced conflict resolution techniques in practice.

The Role of Leadership in Conflict Resolution

Effective conflict resolution is a hallmark of strong leadership. By mastering these advanced techniques, emerging leaders can navigate the complexities of dual validity conflicts and drive their organizations towards cohesive and collaborative solutions.

Leadership in conflict resolutionby Nick Fewings (


Resolving conflicts where both sides are right is an intricate and challenging task. However, by employing advanced conflict resolution and mediation techniques, leaders can uncover the underlying interests, facilitate open dialogue, and craft creative solutions that satisfy all parties involved. As an emerging leader, mastering these skills will not only enhance your executive capabilities but also contribute to a more harmonious and productive organizational environment.

By embracing these strategies, you will be well-equipped to handle the most complex conflicts, driving your team and organization towards sustained success.