neutral third party
What is a Neutral Third Party?
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.
To learn more, and discover the techniques you need to resolve your disputes through mediation, download this free report, Mediation Secrets for Better Business Negotiations: Top Techniques from Mediation Training Experts, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
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