Conflict Resolution and the Four Virtues of Stoicism

At the Mandt System, we believe that healthy conflict resolution grows from healthy relationships, values, and attitudes.  Our ability to manage conflict is an extension of our own qualities and virtues.  The lens of virtue is an interesting way to think of conflict resolution.  Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that concerns itself with four key virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.  Here we’ll have an exploration of these four virtues that the Stoics so greatly valued can apply in situations of workplace conflict and explore how they might influence our conflict resolution techniques.

Wisdom: In the resolution of conflict, those who are conflicted would be best advised to seek knowledge that applies to the conflict.  Gather all of the facts.  Research policy and procedures that may pertain to the conflict. Look at case examples of similar conflicts that have been resolved amicably.

Temperance: Temperance can be thought of as self control.  In order to resolve conflict in a respectful way, those involved in the conflict must be able to affirm their feelings so that they can manage them. Often it is our own ego and the desire to win that does the most damage during conflicts.  By developing the virtue of temperance, it becomes possible to utilize a more balanced approach to conflict so that collaboration becomes possible and the greater good becomes the goal… not just winning.

Courage: Many people avoid confrontation in conflict because of fear.  To engage in conflict resolution, one must have the courage to assertively face the conflict.  Avoiding conflict rarely leads to any kind of resolution, though there may be times when it is appropriate to set aside the conflict until tempers cool.   

Justice: This is to understand that we all live in an interconnected world and we all deserve to be treated in a fair and just manner.  All of us are part of a community, and it is our responsibility to resolve conflict in a way that has the most benefit for all involved.  

John Windsor – Director of Technical Curricula

Cicero, Marcus. On Moral Duties (De Officiis). Little, Brown, and Company, -44.

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