When parties are embroiled in a dispute, a neutral third party can help them come to an agreement through alternative dispute resolution methods.
There are two basic types of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR: Mediation and arbitration (and sometimes a combination called med-arb).
In mediation, a neutral third party tries to help disputants come to a consensus on their own. Rather than imposing a solution, a professional mediator seeks to assist the conflicting sides in exploring the interests underlying their positions. Working with parties together and sometimes separately, mediators try to help them hammer out a resolution that is sustainable, voluntary, and non-binding.
In arbitration, a neutral third party serves as a judge who is responsible for resolving the dispute. The arbitrator listens as each side argues its case and presents relevant evidence, then renders a binding decision.
In either case, a neutral third party can help us look past our “rights,” and focus on interests—the needs, desires, or concerns that underlie each side’s positions. If someone asks you why a dispute is important to you, your answer will reveal your interests.
A good interest-based mediator will be a fast learner, capable of quickly picking up the technical knowledge necessary to discuss the problem. More important, an interest-based mediator doesn’t need to fully understand the technical aspects of a problem to assess why the dispute is important to each party and which solutions each party might accept.
By beginning with this knowledge and eventually exchanging settlement proposals, a neutral third party can help parties resolve the most complex problems.
“ABC: Always Be Closing.” That’s the sales strategy that actor Alec Baldwin’s character Blake shared in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross as he tried to motivate a group of real estate salesmen. In his verbally abusive, profanity-laced speech, Blake presented a ruthless model of closing a business deal that ignores customers’ needs and cuts … Read 7 Tips for Closing the Deal in Negotiations
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When parties involved in a serious conflict want to avoid a court battle, there are types of mediation can be an effective alternative. In mediation, a trained mediator tries to help the parties find common ground using principles of collaborative, mutual-gains negotiation. We tend to think mediation processes are all alike, but in fact, mediators … Read More
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When a negotiation reaches an impasse, it can be tempting to use threats and punishment to try to coerce the other side into conceding. That happened in a dispute between Amazon and Hachette, one of the largest New York publishers, as reported in the New York Times.
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Adapted from “Coping with Culture at the Bargaining Table,” first published in the May 2009 issue of Negotiation.
Why we focus on culture
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