What is alternative dispute management?
Disputes arise when people have opposing views about a situation that is important to both of them and for which they are unable to find a mutually agreeable way forward.
We help people find common ground and a way forward that works for everyone.
The earlier a dispute is recognised and managed, the better the chances are of avoiding people taking entrenched positions and finding a good outcome for everyone.
What is mediation?
Did you hear the tale of the two sisters who quarrelled over an orange? Their parents eventually insisted that they must share the orange by cutting it in half; seemingly a fair outcome and one that most parents would be content with. However, there was a better solution that was invisible to the sisters or their parents. On receiving her half, the first sister ate the flesh of the orange and threw away the peel. The other threw away the flesh and used the peel from her half to bake a cake.
When things have become so bad that the disputing parties are no longer communicating properly mediation is a useful tool. A mediator would have heard from sister one that she wanted only the flesh of the fruit and heard from sister two that she needed the peel only. The mediator would then have known to encourage the sisters to communicate with one another about their intentions for using the orange which would in turn have created the opportunity for joint agreement to the alternative, and superior, way of sharing it.
Mediators are trained and qualified negotiators. They are skilled at working with the parties to help them find a different way forward that is acceptable to everyone.
The benefits of mediation:
- Mediation is always neutral, unbiased, and non-judgemental.
- You decide – a settlement is only reached with your agreement and it’s always a win-win outcome.
- Even if a settlement is not reached, mediation often narrows the matters in dispute and encourages dialogue between the parties.
- Mediation is voluntary, and you may withdraw from the process at any time.
- Mediation is confidential; there will be no local gossip, social media or newspaper reports.
- It is fast, efficient and inexpensive.
- Mediation helps repair relationships
Alternatives to mediation have big disadvantages. The most common alternatives are litigation (going to court) or, in workplaces, disciplinary and grievance processes. These alternatives of last resort are:
SLOW, often taking months (if not years). Mediation can be arranged within days, quickly relieving the stress and anxiety that these formal processes can cause.
EXPENSIVE in costs and time. Legal costs can quickly spiral out of control whereas mediation costs are minimal and fixed upfront. Even if you win your case in court, you may incur expensive legal fees and there is no guarantee you will ever be able to recover these costs from the other side.
CEMENT BAD BLOOD between the parties rendering them unable to continue working together. High-quality mediation can facilitate the return to healthy working relationships
IMPOSE A SOLUTION which is often not acceptable to one or both of the parties whereas with mediation you are never forced to accept something you’re not happy with.
The mediation process
The mediator is impartial. This means they do not take sides. They’re there to help everyone involved find a solution they can all agree to.
It’s not about judging who was right or wrong in the past but looks at how to agree on working together in the future.
A trained, neutral party (the mediator) will hold confidential meetings and listen to both sides (parties) individually. They help the parties to work out what is most important to them.
The mediator looks for common ground between them and helps them to communicate this with each other. The parties remain in control of the outcome and unlike all alternatives, no one is expected to agree to something against their will. A solution is only agreed upon if everyone agrees to it.
Different circumstances require different approaches but typically a mediation will involve a series of confidential meetings initially between the mediator and each of the parties separately. This will often progress to a joint meeting in which the parties will agree to a mutually satisfactory way forward.
Who can benefit from our mediation services?
- Co-workers who are struggling to get along
- A boss and an employee who don’t see eye to eye
- Neighbours who have different lifestyles
- A client who is disappointed with the work undertaken by a contractor
- A supplier who has had an invoice disputed by a customer