If you have a business or domestic conflict with another party and you want to try to resolve it, what's the best way to do it? The short answer is: “that depends.” How complex is it? Is the relationship important to you? How much time and money do you have to invest in resolving it? Those are just a few of the questions necessary to answer in order to find the best solution. Let's briefly review some of the most popular options:
Dispute Resolution Options
- There’s the most traditional way- a lawsuit but typically going to court takes a long time and it’s expensive unless it’s small claims.
- There’s arbitration which is a quicker version of a semi-legal resolution. Arbitrators are usually lawyers or retired judges. The cases that come before them are typically presented by lawyers representing each side. The arbitrator hears the presentations and renders a binding decision. Once a decision is made it cannot be appealed. Case closed.
[Note: currently this is the preferred option for businesses when it comes to resolving thorny disputes related to terminating an employee. When they want to maintain the relationship, then they typically look to mediation.]
- There is yet another venue for resolution-mediation.In mediation, typically the parties resolve the dispute themselves facilitated by a neutral 3rd party. This rest of this post will address this option.
The critical mindset needed to resolve the dispute through mediation is to speak to the facts instead of making personal attacks. The parties involved are best served by focusing on their interests and not their passions. Easier said than done which is why there is a facilitator [or mediator]. However, this is a powerful process for a variety of reasons. It's less expensive, personally empowering, it can help to preserve the relationship, it's timely, creative and those are just a few of the pluses. Are there drawbacks? Sure.
-Any resolution reached is binding only by mutual consent
-It requires the ability to advocate for oneself [or bring an advocate but this person needn't be a lawyer]
-It requires preparation and commitment to the process by both parties
Ellen Gunty,MA is the founding owner of means to an end, a company providing HR consulting and mediation to businesses large and small as well to individuals. We are located in Oakland, Ca just minutes from San Francisco. For more information, please go to www.meanstoanendca.com