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4 Tutorials that teach Conflict Resolution in Action
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Conflict Resolution in Action

Conflict Resolution in Action

Author: Marlene Johnson
Description:

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the range of situations in which conflict resolution can be applied, and will know some of the major successes of the field

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Tutorial

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Conflict resolution has been successful in a wide variety of arenas. I'm Marlene, and I'd like to spend today in this tutorial looking at conflict resolution in action. So, let's start by looking at a number of ways that we can resolve a conflict.

The first is litigation. Litigation is a process of resolving a dispute through civil court. I think we're all familiar with litigation. We certainly have seen television shows with lawyers and court cases. We know that there are two parties who have a dispute, they come into court, they stand before a judge, the judge can make a decision. Oftentimes there are lawyers involved. Sometimes there's a jury. So that's litigation, often costly, and it might be time consuming.

Now, there's an alternative to litigation, and that is arbitration. Arbitration is a process of dispute resolution by seeking a decision from a neutral third party outside of the court system. Now, the key here is outside the court system. I think a lot of legal documents have written into them.

If there's a dispute about something in the document, it can be settled by arbitration. So, there is a third outside party, who does make a decision, and its binding, but it's not in the courthouse. It's outside the courthouse. Now litigation and arbitration both have in common this outside party making the decision for the disputing parties.

Mediation is different. Mediation empowers the disputing parties to make their own decision. They are the ones who decide. So, let's define mediation. Mediation is a form of conflict resolution in which a neutral third party helps disputing parties to communicate effectively in order to alter their relationship, reach an agreement, or both.

Now, what's key here is that word neutral. It's key because the mediator is not involved in the decision, and doesn't have any particular interest in which way it goes. The role of the mediator is simply to provide a safe confidential environment where the parties can speak to one another and be heard, and then come to a decision that will best meet both of their needs. So, that's mediation.

Let's look at some ways in which mediation has been very successful. Well, we know it's been successful within communities. Oftentimes police will refer cases to community mediating factors so they'll have time to focus on the crimes that need their attention. These things could be disputes between neighbors, disputes between people within the neighborhood, perhaps with an apartment complex. It's anything that the police might be called to their attention and they think it could be solved by community mediator.

Also, the mediation can happen on a more federal, grand level. Truth and regulatory stakeholder negotiations are governed by the federal mediation conciliation services. Through that agency, mediators will bring government agency, and those affected by upcoming rules or regulations together.

Now, the goal is to bring these parties at the same room, so that they can speak to one another, and perhaps jointly right the regulation. So, when you look at this, it's very interesting. In order to solve the regulatory dilemma, the process brings two potential antagonists together, and creates partners out of them. It's been very successful.

We could also look at a program called VORP, Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs. These programs are proven to be quite effective because they bring an offender face to face with the victim. So, that the offender can hear the impact of their actions, and take responsibility for what he or she has done, and then make amends. The goal here is to try to make it right.

Particularly among juveniles, this is turned out to be effective. When you have first time offenders, juveniles who have perhaps done shoplifting, or property damage, or graffiti, or they've gotten involved in some kind of a fight. You bring those juveniles face to face with the victims that they have hurt and they really hear the impact, and they have to do restitution. It has had a very positive effect and it has kept these juveniles out of court.

So, those are some examples of how mediation has been a very effective. Another example actually within courts is divorce. More and more couples are seeking mediation as a means to divorce rather than go through a litigation in a courtroom. I'd like to move on to a couple other conflict resolution processes that are a bit like mediation in that they involve a third party. One is facilitation. Facilitation is a process in which decision making, communication, or negotiation is aided by the actions of a neutral or outside party.

So, typically, a facilitator like a mediator, is a neutral party, and they're working with a larger group. Perhaps this group has to make a decision, but there's ranker within the group, and it's difficult to reach consensus.

So, the third party facilitator is brought in to help the group have this conversation, and come to some resolution. There's also conciliation. Conciliation is a conflict resolution process in which the conflict resolver meets privately with each party to the dispute, seeking to gain concessions from each party.

Now, this often happens when you have quite a bit of hostility, and the parties don't want to be present in the same room together. And so they want to meet separately, but they want their needs and their voice to be heard by the other side.

So, the conflict resolver will go back and forth form one side to the other bringing the concessions, bringing these statements, hoping to come to some middle ground, and perhaps come to some state where maybe, maybe the parties both agree to meet face to face, but the goal is to reach resolution through the conciliation process.

So, in summary, all of these processes have similar intents, to resolve a conflict. And even though the processes differ and the types of conflict differ, the size of the conflict, the contextual elements. It's important to remember that all conflicts have some features in common, and we're working to resolve a conflict. The intent is always to reach the best resolution possible for both parties.

So thank you for being part of this tutorial. I look forward to seeing you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Mediation

    A form of conflict resolution in which a neutral third party helps disputing parties to communicate effectively in order to alter their relationship, reach an agreement, or both.

  • Conciliation

    A conflict resolution process in which the conflict resolver meets privately with each party to the dispute, seeking to gain concessions from each party.

  • Facilitation

    A process in which decision-making, communication, or negotiation is aided by the actions of a neutral or outside party.

  • Arbitration

    A process of dispute resolution by seeking a decision from a neutral third party outside of the court system.

  • Litigation

    A process of resolving a dispute through civil court.