Conflict is unavoidable in business and in life; we all know that. How we manage conflict is often the determining factor in the outcome of the dispute. Parties in a dispute have significant control over the matter based on how they react and respond to each other. This is good news for business owners and anyone in conflict with someone.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, in which the parties in dispute meet with a neutral third party to solve the conflict and reach an agreement. The third party is called a mediator, tasked with facilitating a productive, efficient conversation and negotiation between the parties, with or without attorneys.
For complex business matters, most parties involve their attorneys in mediation. Still, it is much less expensive than going to court. It differs from going to court in that it is private, confidential, less formal and less costly than suing each other. Mediation also aims to preserve the relationship between the parties, which is vital if the parties want to continue doing business with each other.
Is mediation suitable for all disputes?
Unfortunately, mediation is not always the answer, and some problems require other forms of dispute resolution, including litigation. The good news is that important organizations, such as the American Bar Association, provide guidance on ADR suitability in commercial disputes, a suggested guide for determining whether mediation is suitable in a specific case.
When mediation works, it works.
When mediation is suitable it works wonders. It is highly effective because of its flexibility, the tools that the mediator can use in each case and because it is accessible to businesses of any size. It is less costly than court, less time-consuming, allows the parties to get back to work faster, and is non-adversarial.
Today, peacemaking between parties in disputes is viewed as a step in the right direction. The courts like it and have made mediation a part of the court process in many civil courts; for example, family courts. It is practical and often the ideal solution because it gives people more control over the outcome of their case.