Disputes and differences arise in all walks of life and in all parts of the country. How we deal with them can determine our economic and personal futures. A long-running unresolved conflict with a customer, supplier, contractor, employee or business partner can be the source of anxiety, a serious disruption to day-to-day working and costly in terms of time and money.
We will always have disputes, of course. Human nature being what it is, differences of view are inevitable. It is how we deal with them that matters. A lot of the time we can default into adversarial mode, we polarize our views and grow antagonistic. This type of reaction eats away at business and personal relationships. Our language may become more aggressive and fear of losing face can mean that we are unable to make any concessions, including acknowledging that we might even be wrong. We make assumptions about other people and what they have done so that, as one writer put it, “it’s not our differences that separate us but our judgments about each other”. Disputes tend to become highly entrenched.
How disputes are resolved
What can be done? Traditionally, people have resorted to legal proceedings or, in certain sectors including the motor, travel and construction, to Arbitration. The difficulty, of course, is that these processes provide enforced solutions to problems. They take time and can cause an even greater rift between the parties. They can also be very expensive. But most importantly the general outcome is one where nobody walks away happy from the proceedings. The reason for this is that the power is taken away from the important people and given to Judges or Arbitrators who are limited to making a decision based on the limited facts that are put before them.
Nowadays, however, many businesses and individuals are using another way – Mediation – to achieve speedy and cost effective resolution of their disputes. Use of Mediation has grown steadily in Ireland in recent years, from its starting point in family disputes into community and neighbourhood difficulties and now in business and organisations too.