Category Archives: Blog

“There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” -Kurt Lewin
The ICCCR Blog, Science and Practice for Constructive Conflict Resolution and Peace, acts as medium of exchange between scientists and practitioners in the field, where multiple authors from varied backgrounds, interests, and experiences contribute. We encourage readers to comment on our posts in order to contribute their own ideas and further the dialogue.

Edited by Peter T. Coleman, Director MD-ICCCR

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Building Rapport for Better Negotiation Outcomes

By Lauren Catenacci

Emotional Intelligence (EI) has become an increasingly important topic in the workplace, as it is critical in interpersonal relationships and social interactions. By definition, EI is a person’s ability to identify, understand, and manage their own emotions, but it also encompasses the ability to understand others’ emotions and empathize with them.

It should come as no surprise that EI has the potential to be a beneficial skill in negotiation and mediation. Past research has suggested that individuals with better EI skills are more likely to achieve greater final outcomes in addition to gaining the trust of their negotiation counterpart. But why might that be?

A recent study Kim, Cundiff, and Choi (2014) set out to explore this question by examining the effects of EI on relationship outcomes: trust, willingness to work with the negotiation partner again, and joint outcome gain. They were particularly interested in understanding whether it was better rapport that allowed people with higher EI to achieve better relational outcomes. The researchers measured participants’ level of EI and then asked them to participate in a job contract negotiation. Afterwards, the negotiation partners reported on how much they trusted and wanted to work with their partner in the future.

They found that better rapport was the key in explaining the positive relationship between EI levels and trust along with willingness/desire to collaborate in the future. In other words, people with higher degrees of EI establish more rapport with their negotiation partner, which ultimately leads to higher levels of trust and more willingness to collaborate in a negotiation in the future.

These findings are important because they underscore the importance of relationships and relationship-building in negotiations. While you may not be able to translate these findings directly to a salary negotiation, these findings are especially important for mediation and ongoing business relationships. Is your EI not quite high? No problem– EI is the type of intelligence one can harness and grow, so it is worth assessing and developing.


Kim, K., Cundiff, N. L., & Choi, S. B. (2014). The influence of emotional intelligence on negotiation outcomes and the mediating effect of rapport: A structural equation modeling approach. Negotiation Journal, 30(1), 49-68.



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Reducing discrimination: A key to sustaining peace after ethnic civil war

By Kristen Rucki

Half the countries emerging from violent conflict revert back to violence within five years (Annan K., 2005, p.3). Civil wars stemming from ethnic conflict are particularly difficult to resolve and in order to sustain peace after ethnic civil wars or intrastate conflicts we urgently need to understand why violence resumes in post-conflict societies. Gurses and Rost (2013) studied characteristics of societies that predict whether they experience sustained peace or renewed violence after an ethnic conflict. Surprisingly, the intensity of violence during the conflict (number of deaths, displacement, and the occurrence of genocide) was not found to strongly impact post-war peace duration. However, post-war political and economic discrimination against the ethnic group involved in the civil war was found to increase the risk of conflict recurrence.

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Thinking highly of their gender may motivate more women to lead

By April Bang
Last month, we celebrated International Women’s Day.  As women raised banners and gathered to march in the streets or share stories of achievement in a classroom, the message of empowerment for women was clear along with the encouragement for women to lead.  While momentum continues to build with policy changes and more women arising to leadership, women remain underrepresented among leaders in organizations and society.
Jedi Master

Harnessing collaborative dissent by fostering positive emotions during conflicts at work

By Nick Redding

While there is considerable research demonstrating that conflicts at work of a personal nature are the most destructive, research on conflicts over the task being performed (i.e. task conflicts) is inconclusive. Previous studies suggest that task-related conflicts in organizations resulted in either frustration, anger, and decreasing satisfaction with fellow team members, or sharing new information, ideas and perspectives.

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Beyond drug wars: The link between inequality and conflict

By Kyong Mazzaro

Colombia has faced one of the lengthiest conflicts involving one of the largest left-wing rebel groups in modern history, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Claiming more than seven million victims over five decades of violence, the conflict has affected and displaced vulnerable populations, involving a multitude of actors from governments to guerilla and crime syndicates. Even though land disputes between elites and peasant farmers are at the origin of the conflict, many scholars explain the endurance of violence in the Colombian and other similar conflicts as the direct result of incentive structures that allow parties to benefit from the conflict. Namely, drug trafficking and other illicit activities provide resources for rebel groups to remain active. However, although drug trafficking is a well known driver of conflict, recent research has found that addressing the conditions of deep inequality that are at the origin of conflicts can be an effective and often neglected strategy to reduce violence.

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Resized Devil

Playing the devil: Harmful effects of utilizing a devil’s advocate for beneficial team conflict

Molly Clark

Leaders in business and government know that a manageable degree of conflict between people in groups helps to mitigate groupthink in team decision-making. Groupthink results from self-censorship that stifles disagreement within teams, so the free expression of alternative views can improve the quality of team decisions. Thus, leaders have developed ways to encourage beneficial task-focused conflict, often through assigning a team member to play the role of devil’s advocate. While research shows that this tactic improves group decision outcomes, until recently we did not know the impact task conflict has on those who engage in it: the devil’s advocate and their targets whose ideas are being criticized.

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