What a Good Mediator Can Do
The profession of conflict resolution so diverse that it defies regulation. But if you want help in ending a dispute, look for someone who can:
Investigate: Early in the case, dig out hard facts that parties may not want to divulge.
Empathize: Show conspicuous awareness of the needs of others. Establish an atmosphere where tension is expressed constructively.
Act impartially: Show equal respect for all disputants.
Generate Options: Bring out ideas and proposals consistent with the facts and workable for both parties.
Generate Solutions: Move parties toward closing an agreement, help parties evaluate options.
Manage: Cope with conflicts among parties, maintaining optimism and moving the discussion forward.
Show Knowledge: Demonstrate competence in the issues and type of dispute.
The Many Alternatives to a Trial
People who practice conflict resolution do so in various ways. Here are some of them:
1. Arbitration: A mutually agreed-upon third party or panel makes a decision after hearing arguments and reviewing evidence.
2. Court-ordered arbitration: Judges refer civil suits to arbitrators, who make nonbinding decisions. Parties may return to court if not satisfied.
3. Conciliation: A third party tries to bring disputants to agreement by lowering tensions, improving communication, and exploring potential solutions.
4. Fact-finding: Disputing parties or the court selects a third person to investigate complaints. The fact-finder cannot make a binding decision but may propose some solutions.
5. Facilitation: A neutral expert helps parties reach mutually accepted agreements but avoids making substantive contributions.
6. Med-Arb: A neutral third party serves first as a mediator, then as an arbitrator if mediation does not work.
7. Mediation: A neutral third party assists disputants in a structured process to reach a negotiated settlement but does not make a decision.
8. Minitrial: Used in lieu of corporate litigation. Attorneys present their cases before managers with the authority to settle.
9. Negotiation: Two parties bargain with each other.
10. Ombudsman: A third party who works within an institution and tries to resolve complaints but has no enforcement power.
Source: National Institute for Dispute Resolution