Too often, the dispute resolution process can be an acrimonious and unproductive. But you can find creative ways to reach mutually satisfactory agreements.
A dispute resolution process has three basic approaches, each with its pros and cons. The first two, mediation and arbitration, are considered types of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) because they are an alternative to litigation.
It can often be difficult to determine which dispute resolution process is best for your particular situation. Simply knowing what you want to get out of the process can help you decide where to start. Begin by prioritizing your goals.
There are also strategies available that can help us navigate the dispute resolution process and find the best possible outcome.
One of the most important conflict negotiation strategies you can adopt is to listen actively to your counterpart’s concerns. To do so, you will need to resist the urge to interrupt and defend yourself.
It’s also helpful to try to focus on the problem rather than the personalities involved. Because conflict tends to promote competition and antagonism, you should strive to frame the situation in a positive light. For example, focus on the potential benefits.
Don’t forget to examine ways to create value, too. Negotiators who understand the importance of collaborating with one another to create value nonetheless often abandon that approach during the dispute resolution process. Treating disputes as different from other aspects of dealmaking, they tend to view dispute resolution as a zero-sum game—one in which only a single issue (such as money) is at stake. Consequently, they tend to look at the dispute resolution process as a win-lose battle, to their detriment.
We generally think of mediation as a dispute-resolution device. Federal mediators intervene when collective bargaining breaks down. Diplomats are sometimes called in to mediate conflicts between nations. So-called multi-door courthouses encourage litigants to mediate before incurring the costs – and risks – of going to trial.
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Worldwide, mediation has become a common means of resolving conflict, ranging from divorce to workplace disputes to broken contracts. Yet mediation remains an underused tool for resolving disputes in U.S.
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Retired US Senator George Mitchell played a critical role in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. In an interview with Susan Hackley, Managing Director of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, in the February 2004 Negotiation newsletter, he describes how he was able to facilitate an agreement between these long-warring parties.
… Read Negotiating the Good Friday Agreement
Too often, dispute resolution can be an acrimonious and unproductive process. The following 10 negotiation and conflict resolution strategies can help you find creative ways to reach mutually satisfactory agreements.
… Read Top 10 Dispute Resolution Skills
As a collaboration between UST School of Law and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the following is the transcript of a conversation between the creator of the multi-door courthouse, Harvard Law Professor Frank E.A. Sander, and the executive director and founder of the University of St. Thomas (UST) International ADR [Alternative Dispute … Read What is the Multi-Door Courthouse Concept
Here’s a great example on how to avoid litigation by pursuing negotiation with your counterparts. In the face of antitrust charges, Google’s guiding principle for dispute resolution is “Don’t litigate, negotiate,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
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What is dispute resolution? There are three basic types of dispute resolution, each with its pros and cons. The first two, mediation and arbitration, are considered types of alternative dispute resolution because they are an alternative to litigation.
… Read Choose the Right Dispute Resolution Process
Mediation is often thought of as a last step to adjudicate disputes. In this article, professor Lawrence Susskind spells out the hidden advantages of using mediation early in the process to solve problems and reach voluntary compliance agreements.
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No one likes to go to court. Not only is it expensive and time-consuming, but it often leads to frustrating results and damaged relationships. So, how does mediation work in a lawsuit and is legal mediation a better route?
… Read How Does Mediation Work in a Lawsuit?
It’s often the case that when two people or organizations try to resolve a dispute by determining who is right, they get stuck. That’s why so many disputes end up in court. There is a better way to resolve your dispute: by hiring an expert mediator who focuses not on rights but on interests—the needs, … Read Mediation and the Conflict Resolution Process
Organizations have long recognized the value of hiring professional mediators to help resolve disputes. More and more, managers have begun to also see value in securing mediation training for themselves and their employees. Although there are times when the services of an unbiased, professional mediator are needed, there may also be instances in which employees … Read Mediation Training: What Can You Expect?
When parties find themselves involved in a serious conflict, they often try to avoid the expense and hassle of litigation by turning to one of the two most common alternative dispute resolution processes: mediation or arbitration. Disputants who are concerned about these drawbacks might want to consider a hybrid mediation-arbitration approach called med-arb.
… Read What is Med-Arb?
Sometimes disputes are left to fester for years, even decades, until parties decide there is something to be gained from reaching agreement. In 2015, the nations of Bangladesh and India seized on an opportunity to push the “restart” button on a contentious border disagreement through dispute resolution. Such international conflict resolution examples can illustrate how … Read More
Sooner or later, almost all of us will find ourselves trying to cope with how to manage conflict at work. At the office, we may struggle to work through high-pressure situations with people with whom we have little in common. We need a special set of strategies to calm tempers, restore order, and meet each … Read How to Manage Conflict at Work
So, you’re stuck in a serious dispute, but you’re desperate to avoid the hassle and expense of a court case. You’ve heard about alternative dispute resolution but are not sure what it entails.
… Read What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
If you have ever owned a cell phone or been issued a credit card, odds are you’ve signed an arbitration agreement. You also may have signed an arbitration agreement when you started your current job or a past one, whether you remember doing so or not.
… Read What is an Arbitration Agreement?
When a dispute flares up and conflict resolution is required, the outcome can be sadly predictable: the conflict escalates, with each side blaming the other in increasingly strident terms. The dispute may end up in litigation, and the relationship may be forever damaged.
… Read 3 Negotiation Strategies for Conflict Resolution
In the workplace, it sometimes seems as if conflict is always with us. Miss a deadline, and you are likely to face conflict with your boss. Lash out at a colleague who you feel continually undermines you, and you’ll end up in conflict. And if you disagree with a fellow manager about whether to represent … Read 3 Types of Conflict and How to Address Them
The three most common alternative dispute resolution techniques are mediation, arbitration, and med-arb. However, it can often be difficult to determine which method is best for your particular situation. Here are four possible objectives you may have as a leader in your organization and suggestions for which type of ADR may be most appropriate in that … Read More
Knowing what to look for in a mediator is key to successful dispute resolution. Know what qualities to look for, the purpose of the mediator, and how alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes like mediation can benefit even the most entrenched disputes.
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When one party brings up the possibility of a lawsuit in a business dispute, the threat can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yet business negotiators often benefit from settling their disputes before going to court, write Robert H. Mnookin, Scott R. Peppet, and Andrew S. Tulumello in their book Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in … Read When Conflict Becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
During his years as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State, one of James A. Baker, III’s, goals was to encourage the free-market reforms that Communist Party of the Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev had launched in the late 1980s. One day during his tenure, a high-level Bush administration official commented in the press that … Read More
When countries face contending water claims, one of the biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement is uncertainty. Specifically, there are three types of uncertainty: uncertainty of information, uncertainty of action, and uncertainty of perception. In part 2 of this 5 part series, Program on Negotiation faculty member Lawrence Susskind explains the uncertainties facing negotiators trying … Read More
The most difficult peace negotiations in recent decades—in Ireland, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and Sri Lanka—were plagued by a common enemy: violent disruptions by spoilers opposed to the peace process. In each of these cases, extremists stalled negotiations by creating security crises that divided public opinion and drove negotiators apart.
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If you manage people, disputes will show up at your door. The marketing VP protests that the budget cap you and your new finance VP proposed is hindering a research initiative you supported. Two young sales representatives are embroiled in a turf war. Your administrative assistant is upset because the HR director won’t approve the … Read More
What at first seemed like a minor misunderstanding has spiraled out of control. A Chicago-based printing company hired your Chicago-based IT consulting firm to train its staff to use its new computer system.
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For 70 years, the governments of Japan and South Korea disagreed over what Japan might owe the Korean women its soldiers abused during World War II. The story of how they finally came to agreement reminds us of the importance of including all interested parties in conflict-resolution efforts.
An unresolved issue
During the war, tens of thousands … Read Negotiation in the News: Arm’s Length Peacemaking
Back in 2000, James Brown, the legendary “Godfather of Soul,” signed a will leaving most of his estate—valued up to $100 million—to provide scholarships to needy children. In an audio tape, the musician explained that he hoped to cement his legacy with these good deeds. In the will, Brown also set aside scholarship funds for … Read More
In the business world, long-term loyalty to a CEO is supposed to be a good thing. For New England supermarket chain Market Basket, however, employees’ reverent appreciation for their former chief and co-owner, Arthur T. Demoulas, has proved to be destructive to the business in the short term, causing employee and customer protests as well … Read In Dispute Resolution, A Tale of Two Arthurs
When you’re thinking about resolving a dispute in court, it’s crucial to remember that the decision that will be imposed on you is binding.
If blinders lead a judge to grant a motion that should be denied, deny a motion that should be granted, assign responsibility to the wrong party, or award too much or … Read Negotiate, Don’t Litigate
Adapted from “Blind Justice? Think Twice Before Going to Court,” by Chris Guthrie (professor, Vanderbilt University Law School), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, April 2007.
Planning to resolve a personal or business dispute in court? Consider that judges don’t make decisions based on a thorough accounting of all the relevant and available information. Instead, like … Read Avoid judicial bias with negotiation
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