Conflicts & Negotiation Handling in Project Management

14/12/2021 0 By indiafreenotes


Project Vision

In an ideal construction project, everyone has the same vision for the project as the client or project manager. Everyone should be working towards the same goal of making the client happy. This type of conflict arises when workers have different ideas for the overall construction project. People will always have their own opinions. Teams may think that they need extra materials while some argue that there are enough materials to finish the job. Out of the 5 types of conflict in project management, differences in project vision don’t happen too often, but they can still cause problems while on the construction site.

Lack of Communication

Out of the 5 types of conflict in project management, a lack of communication can be the costliest for people working in construction. By far, a lack of communication will do the most damage to a construction project. Giving wrong or unclear instructions can set a project back. As a project manager, you have to communicate with each worker what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how they should go about completing it. A project manager that fails to communicate in a clear way will set up the project for failure.

A lack of communication can delay a project by a lot of time and will increase costs as a result. Communicating with your workers is crucial. It gives the project manager the ability to oversee how the project is developing and also gives them insight on some of the problems happening onsite.

Conflict Disagreements

When there are conflicts on the construction site, people should work together to come up with possible solutions. Working together usually solves the initial conflict, but if there are differing opinions on the solution another conflict can be born. This conflict is the disagreement on what to do about the initial problem. Out of the 5 types of conflict in project management, conflict disagreements don’t happen too often, but when they do they can delay a project for a decent amount of time. It can also create bad blood between workers who get too emotionally involved. It’s crucial that you solve this conflict quickly for the sake of your project.

Poor Leadership

As a project manager, you need to have the ability to lead your workers towards a finished project. You need to be able to hand out instructions that are very clear and need to supervise the progress of the project to make sure everything is going smoothly. A great project manager can bring out the best in any employee and will complete a project either on time or ahead of schedule. These are the qualities of a great leader, but what type of conflict occurs when there’s poor leadership?

Poor leadership can happen when a construction manager is not performing at an optimal level and is slowing down the progress of the project. When there is poor leadership, problems such as time constraints, unclear instructions, and confusion about worker roles occur. These problems slow down the pace of the project and increase the overall costs. Compared to a lack of communication, poor leadership is just as bad, if not the worst conflict to have out of the 5 types of conflict in project management.

Group Differences

Construction is all about teamwork. You need to have workers that are knowledgeable enough to make their own judgments and are team-oriented for the sake of the project. Group differences, one of the 5 types of conflict in project management, can happen when two different groups of workers don’t work efficiently due to their differences. Workers that can’t be team players and get along with their fellow construction workers make construction work a lot harder than it needs to be.

Workers with group differences will slow down the flow of the construction project. Whether there are communication problems or a difference in personality, workers have to overcome their differences for the benefit of the project. Workers that get along, work as a team, and set aside their differences will always finish a construction project faster and more efficiently than those who don’t.


A project manager wears many hats during a project. One of two hats that the project manager always seems to wear is that of a negotiator. Negotiations can occur during any phase of the project and multiple times during each phase. Project managers can negotiate with the project team, customers, and stakeholders. Some project managers are very good at negotiating, while others are not quite as good. A good negotiator knows there are two main classifications of negotiations: competitive and collaborative.

A competitive negotiation is a type of negotiation that is like a winner-takes-all battle royal. One side tries to get all of the resources and not share. This is a dangerous type of negotiation as bridges can be burned and feelings hurt.

A collaborative negotiation is the opposite of a competitive negotiation. This type tries to make both parties winners, also known as win-win negotiations. Most project managers look to use collaborative negotiations, as it will build long term alliances and decrease the chance of conflict later.

Conflict Resolution

The second hat that a project manager always seems to wear is the conflict resolver. Conflict resolution, just like negotiations, can occur during any stage of the project and can occur between the project team, stakeholders, and customers. So, how does a project manager resolve conflict? Well the first thing he should do is:


The first item a project manager must do is separate the conflict down into issues and people. The project manager must always remember that people have feelings and can harbour hard feelings for a while. The project manager must remember people are people, and issues are, well, issues–that is a long-winded way of saying work is work. After separation, the project manager can confront the parties, withdraw from the conflict, or step in and provide a resolution.


On a project, the project manager (most of the time) is the final authority when it comes to conflict resolutions. The project manager confronts both parties and hears them out for a quick resolution. The project manager has the authority to make decisions in favour of one or the other party.

Withdraw from Conflict

This is where the project manager will withdraw from the conflict and let things work themselves out. Years of experience have taught veteran project managers this is not a good way to solve conflict.


The project manager will negotiate a collaborative solution to the conflict. The project manager will try to find a happy medium to allow both parties to walk away feeling as though they won. This will help smooth things over with each side.


Some conflicts are not worth the time of both parties. When the project manager determines what the issue is, he can arrange for one party to have a win and the other party to walk away. This would be like competitive negotiations.

There are five general techniques for resolving conflict. Each technique has its place and use:

1) Withdraw/avoid. Retreating from an actual or potential conflict situation; postponing the issue to be better prepared or to be resolved by others.

2) Smooth/accommodate. Emphasizing areas of agreement rather than areas of difference; conceding one’s position to the needs of others to maintain harmony and relationships.

3) Compromise/reconcile. Searching for solutions that bring some degree of satisfaction to all parties in to temporarily or partially resolve the conflict. This approach occasionally results in a lose-lose situation.

4) Force/direct. Pushing one’s viewpoint at the expense of others; offering only win-lose solutions, usually enforced through a power position to resolve an emergency. This approach often results to a win-lose situation.

5) Collaborate/problem solve. Incorporating multiple viewpoints and insights from differing perspectives; requires a cooperative attitude and open dialogue that typically leads to consensus and commitment. This approach can result in a win-win situation.