In this FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School,  Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, the editors of Negotiation Briefings cull valuable negotiation strategies and curate popular content to provide you with a concise guide on how to improve your dispute resolution skills.

dispute resolution process

What is the Dispute Resolution Process?

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.

Find out more about the dispute resolution process in this FREE report, Dispute Resolution: Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.



The following items are tagged dispute resolution process:

What is the Multi-Door Courthouse Concept

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

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 

What is Med-Arb?

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

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? 

Mediation Training: What Can You Expect?

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

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? 

Negotiating the Good Friday Agreement

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution, Daily.

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 

Alternative Dispute Resolution In-House: Mediation, Arbitration, or Med-Arb?

Posted by & filed under Daily, Dispute Resolution.

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 

Dispute Resolution: Building Momentum through Small Wins

Posted by & filed under Dealing with Difficult People.

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 

When Conflict Becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

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 

Arbitration vs Mediation: Using Teambuilding and ADR in Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

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 

Dispute Resolution: Uncertainty, Risk, and Opportunity in Water Diplomacy

Posted by & filed under Dispute Resolution.

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 

How to Conduct a Mediation During Crisis Negotiations

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

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. … Read More 

How Your Organization Can Benefit from Mediation Techniques

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

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 

Negotiation in the News: Arm’s Length Peacemaking

Posted by & filed under International Negotiation.

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 

Can Mediation Settle the James Brown Dispute?

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

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 Dispute Resolution, A Tale of Two Arthurs

Posted by & filed under Dispute Resolution.

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 

Avoid judicial bias with negotiation

Posted by & filed under Conflict Resolution, Daily.

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