Settling Disputes
Methods for Solving Disputes
Informal Talks
Court Action
Usual Negotiations
(example: contract negotiations)
The process by which people involved in a dispute
discuss their problem and try to reach a solution
acceptable to all.
Work towards a “Win-Win” solution
Settlement: When attorneys work out an agreement
before the case goes to trial
• Phase One: All involved come in with a sincere interest in finding
a solution
• Phase Two: The actual negotiations (identify the real issue that
needs to be resolved)
• Phase Three: Agree on what people outside the decision should
be told
Outcome is legally binding
Informal Talk
(2 brothers are arguing over who gets the car this weekend)
Individuals involved talk directly with
each other
Idea is not to win but to come to an
agreement that serves both parties
Most conflicts can be solved this way
of parties involved want to come to a
mutually beneficial outcome
(example: property disputes in a divorce)
All parties agree to have one or more
people listen to their arguments and
make the decision for them.
 Arbitrator is like a judge but less
 All parties agree to abide by the ruling
(legally binding)
(example: dispute at work between 2 co-workers)
When a third person helps the
disputing parties talk about their
problems and settle their differences
 Relies on the willingness of the parties
to come up with a reasonable
 Both need to agree to abide by the
Steps in a Mediation Session
(read p.45)
Step One: Introduction: Mediator helps people involved feel at ease
and establishes ground rules of behavior
Step Two: Telling the Story: Each person tells what happened. No
interruptions are allowed
Step Three: Identifying Positions and Interests: Mediator makes
sure each side was heard by summarizing each person’s views and
asking questions.
Step Four: Identifying Alternative Solutions: The disputants think of
possible solutions to the problem. The mediator makes a list and
asks each to explain how they feel about each solution.
Step Five: Revising and Discussing Solutions: Based on the
feelings of those involved, the mediator may help by suggesting
changes/offering a better solutions.
Step Six: Reaching an Agreement: The mediator helps the sides
reach an agreement. The agreement is written down. The
disputants also discuss what happens if they find the agreement isn’t
working for them or one chooses not to follow the agreement.
Current “Mediations” in news
Washington State workers
 NFL / Referee lockout
 Iran / Israel
 Boeing / SPEA
Methods of Dispute Resolution
1. Less Formal
2. Just the disputants settle things
3. Not legally binding
____ & ____
____ & ____
Court Action
____ & ____
Informal Talk
____ & ____
____ & ____
4. More Formal
5. Many People Involved
6. Enforceable by courts
On the back of this page, write a ½ to 1 page
dialogue/example of a conflict being
resolved using one of these methods that
you may have experienced (or wish you did)
Examine the following situations and decide the best method
for solving each problem.
(Informal Discussion, Negotiations, Arbitration, Mediation,
Court Action, etc)
Two sisters share a room. However, they disagree over how
the room should be arranged and decorated.
A new stereo breaks down after two weeks, and the
salesperson refuses to fix it.
A landlord will not make needed repairs because he believes
the tenant caused the damage.
A labor union and an employer disagree over the wages and
conditions of employment.
A married couple wants a divorce
The IRS sends you a letter claiming that you owe another
$200 in taxes. You disagree.
Carl invites Raquel to the prom, and she agrees to go with
him. Then Miguel invites her to the prom. Raquel really
wants to go with Miguel and accepts his invitation. Carl finds
out about her decision after he has purchased flowers and
paid of r a limousine to take them to the prom.
(example: Child Advocate in court)
Government agencies, newspapers
and some universities use
 A person who has the power to
investigate complaints and then help
the parties reach some agreement
 If court ordered, is legally binding
 If not, all parties have to agree to
abide by the outcome
Problems at the Mall
Magda, David and Rashida have been friends since the sixth grade. One of their
favorite activities is to go to the mall and look around in the stores. Sometimes they
make purchases and sometimes they are just window-shopping. There are lots of
young people who do this, and it is fun to see people and hang out
Recently, a number of stores in the mall have experienced an increase in shoplifting
and vandalism. As a result, the stores have made a policy that no one under 16
years of age can enter without a parent or guardian. The new rues also state that if
you are between the ages of 16-18 you cannot enter the store in groups larger than
two. Other teens have to wait outside until each pair leaves. Store owners have
threatened to call the police if the young people give them any trouble about the new
This policy makes Magda, David and Rashida angry. They believe it is unfair. After
all, they are paying customers and spend money in these stores. Why is the rule
directed only at young people? They do not want to get into trouble with the police,
but they do not understand why they have to be treated as troublemakers when they
have not done anything wrong.
The manager of the shopping mall, along with one of the store owners, has agreed to
meet with two of the teens and a mediator to try to find some workable solution.
Problems as the Mall
In preparation for the mediation session, the disputants
should consider the following issues:
a. What are your concerns? How would you state the issue in the dispute?
b. What is your starting position (demand)? What are your underlying
interests (what do you really want)?
c. What is the best conceivable outcome from your perspective?
d. What do you think the starting position and underlying interests of the
other side will be?
e. Identify two workable solutions that would solve the conflict
Use the list of Steps in a Typical Medication Session on p. 43
to walk through the process and develop a reasonable
solution for the disputants.
Key to Success
Ideas for resolving the conflict come
from the people who have the conflict
 Those involved take responsibility for
their role and work toward resolution
Quick Review
Methods of Resolving Disputes
 Arbitration
 Court Action
 Informal Talks
 Mediation
 Ombudsperson