An unresolved conflict entails a number of potential dangers with varying degrees of severity. Depending on the situation it may result in family discord, a decline in a teams performance, or even prosecution and legal charges. Several techniques can be employed in order to prevent these kinds of undesirable consequences. Apart from litigation that implies resolving issues by taking legal action, there are alternative dispute resolution methods, including mediation and arbitration.
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First of all, it is essential to start by considering the difference between these two concepts. Arbitration implies the involvement of a neutral party that considers the positions of both sides and provides a solution. If the parties involved in a conflict have earlier agreed to abide by this decision, following it is considered mandatory. Mediation, on the other hand, entails that a third-party promotes communication between the sides, encouraging them to find the most suitable solution on their own (Cahn & Abigail, 2014). Arbitration is more cost-effective than formal litigation since it allows to resolve the issue in a shorter time with less expense. Mediation is more informal and can be undertaken instead or before arbitration. There is evidence that suggests that the process of mediation has an approximately 80% success rate (Bruce et al., 1990, as cited by Cahn & Abigail, 2014). During the process of mediation, both conflicting parties may express their perception of the issue while the role of a mediator would be to navigate the discussion, helping them to achieve mutual understanding. A mediator should be appropriately trained and ready to keep confidential all the information they receive during the intervention.
Since arbitration is a more formal procedure and implies a binding solution, it is more useful in situations when the sides show no inclination to have a productive dialogue or when a third partys interests should be considered. For instance, in divorce cases, when the parents appear to be mutually hostile, and child custody is in question, it may be more appropriate to resort to arbitration. Besides, if at least one of the sides shows a propensity to violence, only litigation, or if the circumstances allow, arbitration should be considered, because rational communication is unlikely to happen in this case. There is evidence suggesting that more than 50% of couples who seek mediation have experience of domestic abuse (as cited in Rossi et al., 2019). Therefore, careful screening should be conducted before deciding whether mediation is appropriate.
However, one of the major drawbacks of arbitration is that it does not encourage seeking common ground. In this procedure, the decision-making process is taken out of the hands of the parties concerned. Therefore, if the potential for dialogue is present, it might be useful to choose mediation. This method can be particularly effective in the workplace. All kinds of conflicts appear during the working process that can undermine the teams performance. Though in some cases, an authoritative decision may be the only choice, better long-term results can be achieved if senior managers or colleagues serve merely as mediators to promote communication. In this case, both parties, if they need to continue the collaboration, are less likely to be hostile to each other and may, as a result, be more productive. A positive experience of reaching a common ground on their own can also be extremely effective in dealing with family disputes. It can help to minimize the risk of future conflicts or the need for outside interference. There is also research that suggests that mediation procedures can be applied in educational facilities. Encouraging communication instead of presenting authoritative decisions in case of conflicts in the classroom can contribute to creating a safe and productive environment and provide students with opportunities for development (Wright et al., 2018). In such an informal situation, it appears to be the most suitable way of conflict resolution.
Although in some situations, mediators and arbitrators can be found within an organization or an institution, in many cases, outside help is required. American Arbitration Association is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1926 that provides services of alternative dispute resolutions, including both arbitration and mediation (American Arbitration Association, 2020). They help to regulate business-to-business and business-to-customer issues, construction disputes, and employment conflicts. For any person who wants to pursue a career in business, the services of a reliable organization with almost 100 years of experience in conflict resolution may one day come useful. Particularly, it seems that resorting to mediation procedures can enhance changes of future cooperation and, therefore, help to avoid a decline in performance for both parties.
Although in some cases, conflicts can facilitate productivity, in many other situations, they appear to be harmful and disruptive. There are several strategies that can be employed in order to resolve a conflict; each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, dispute resolution methods should be carefully chosen in accordance with the situation after taking into consideration all the factors.
American Arbitration Association (2020). AAA Mission & Principles. Web.
Cahn D.D. & Abigail R.A. (2014). Managing conflict through communication (5th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.
Rossi, F. S., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Applegate, A. G., & Beck, C. J. (2019). Subtypes of violent separating or divorcing couples seeking family mediation and their association with personality and criminality characteristics. Psychology of Violence. Web.
Wright K. L., Etchells M. J. & Watson N. T. (2018). Meeting in the middle: eight strategies for conflict mediation in your classroom. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 54(1), 30– 35. Web.