There are four main methods of conflict resolution – negotiation, litigation, arbitration and mediation.
Negotiation is the most common form of dispute resolution and unique in that it can be used without a third-party. It is the sensible first choice process when related parties disagree and come together to discuss the issues between themselves. It has the advantages of privacy, expediency and the parties themselves dictate the process, its level of formality, its scheduling, its duration and its objectives. An experienced negotiator will be a self-managed, proactive communicator who is able to maintain a number of discussion processes simultaneously.
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If negotiations fail to realise an agreement parties can agree to one or a combination of the following three processes…
Litigation refers to the process by which you employ the services of a solicitor, who will take your case before the courts. This a very popular method of conflict resolution, as it offers a final judgement, based on the presentation of factual evidence, to which all parties are bound. Though it is an extremely reliable method of conflict resolution, it has a number of disadvantages. Firstly, it can be extremely expensive, especially if the judgement is appealed. Secondly, it can be very time-consuming, prolonging the stresses and anxieties that go along with difficult court cases. Thirdly, the judgement is based on a specific event and set of circumstances, and requires further legal interpretation to have any applicability in similar circumstances.
Arbitration is a less popular method of conflict resolution. This involves both disputants agreeing to the outside intervention of a third party, an independent adjudicator, outside of the court system. This third party will listen to both sides and impose either a binding or non-binding judgement, including a determination of liability. It is a popular route to resolution in many workplace conflicts. Finding an adjudicator agreeable to both sides can be problematic however, and it can often be the case that both sides are unhappy with the adjudicators determination.
Mediation is an extremely effective option to try to resolve a conflict. You can see how the process works and its advantages over the other methods <here>
A comparison of these processes can be illustrated as follows;