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5 Essential Conflict Resolution Skills That U.S. Diplomats Need for International Relations

With the fields of international relations and peacekeeping growing at a rapid pace, the U.S. government and non-profit organizations dedicated to the peace process are placing a higher value on conflict resolution skills than ever before. By successfully managing conflict, one can better handle complex relationships between international entities. With this in mind, it is important for successful leaders within the field to educate themselves so they are more effective in conflict management and resolution.

Important Skills Needed to Work in the International Relations Field

Organizations across the globe seek a variety of interpersonal skill sets when hiring for the international relations field. Some of the most sought-after skills include basic conflict resolution, strategic thinking and problem-solving. While all these traits are important for a successful career, conflict resolution skills are one of the most important for professionals in the field. Developing and honing these five essential conflict resolution skills can help ensure a successful career:

1. Active Listening Skills:

In order to successfully mediate a conflict, all parties need to feel as if they are heard. Active listening encourages and incorporates mutual understanding. The concept of active listening involves paying attention not only to a speaker’s words but to their body language, tone, and behavior. The listener should be able to communicate what was said back to the speaker in a clear and concise way. This requires a certain level of understanding and cultural sensitivity, especially as it relates to the work of those in the international relations field.

2. Leadership Skills:

The ability to encourage a group of people to work toward a common goal is essential for diplomats. By learning the traits of a successful leader and how this carries over to the world of diplomacy, professionals can prepare themselves for the challenges ahead. International relations experts are often called upon to facilitate meetings and events, which requires a high level of leadership and teambuilding knowledge.

3. Relationship Building Skills:

Learning how to relate to others and build bonds based on mutual trust is another essential skill for diplomats. Relationships are one of the most important elements for building and maintaining collaboration between entities. Learning how to develop the groundwork for positive relationships is a skill that requires both talent and instruction. Determining how much time and effort should be invested in relationships and how cultural differences affect relationship statuses is an important skill for those in the international relations field.

4. Written Communication Skills:

Written documentation is an essential form of communication for diplomats. Those who are successful in the international relations field are able to craft complex contracts and agreements that work well for all parties involved. Successful diplomats need to have the ability to develop written agreements that include language and vocabulary that resonates with each party and encourages peace.

5. Mediation Skills:

When multiple parties are involved, it often takes a third party to negotiate and bring about a successful resolution. A successful mediator can act as an impartial third party who can deal with a high level of conflict using self-control, patience, and tact. Taking initiative and maintaining control of discussions is a difficult concept for many to master, so learning techniques that allow one to act as an effective mediator can enhance the career of a diplomat.

Conflict Resolution Training

Many working in the international relations field agree that, at a minimum, professionals in the field should receive at least some classroom-based conflict management instruction to help hone key knowledge and skills. Most conflict resolution training includes comprehensive instruction on conflict theory, along with mediation strategies. It also teaches professionals how to actively listen, control anger, balance power, and craft agreements. Advanced and specialized conflict resolution training is also available. This level of training can include targeted agreement writing skills, positive conflict and communication strategies, organizational planning, and skills for handling complex emotional situations.

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As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in Diplomacy program provides working professionals with a broad understanding of global communications protocol and a deep knowledge of the world issues that affect international relations. The program allows you to build on your political, governmental, or business expertise with a solid foundation in the theories and practices that direct international relations and political science within the international system.


Conflict Resolution and Preventive Diplomacy, United States Institute of Peace

Skills, Networks & Knowledge: Developing a Career in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Alliance for Conflict Resolution

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