Conflict Coaching is the set of skills and strategies that support peoples’ ability to engage in, manage, or productively resolve conflict. The conflict coach often works one-on-one with the coachee, who is experiencing conflict with another person. It is useful in dealing with workplace disputes or business conflicts. Among many other benefits, conflict coaching helps to understand differences in communication styles among different persons, and even other organizations. Significant, because communication, or better still, the failure of it, is often at the heart of many conflicts.
I am inclined to suggest that Conflict Coaching might be more of mediation skill, than it is coaching skill. In 2012, Saundry & Wibberley pointed to the need to locate mediation skills “closer to the locus of conflict and disputes…[by] placing a greater emphasis on the provision of mediation skills to key actors as opposed to training accredited mediators”. Conflict Coaching complements Mediation, as it includes giving people the ability and obligation to solve problems without hostility or aggression. It can be part of a policy adopting Non-Violent Communication as a standard communication. For example, managers can be enabled and encouraged to take responsibility for emerging “difficult conversations.” Conflict Coaching would also help individual managers develop confidence and skills to deal with difficult issues.
Again, in 2015, Saundry and Wibberley found that introducing in-house mediators could have a “transformative effect on workplace relationships and critically lay the platform for channels of communication which facilitate the early and informal resolution of workplace conflict.” The in-house availability of a pool of professionally trained mediators and conflict coaches makes the process much more accessible and available in terms of cost and time.