Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Streetsblog There is a half-finished Target store in my neighborhood that stands as a perfect metaphor for the problems with using litigation as a means of resolving developers’ and the community’s interests in urban projects. With construction halted because of claimed height violations, the unfinished building has been left in limbo. The community now has to live with something that is ugly; that is enormously wasteful; and that has been sitting there unfinished for a long time. Its continued unresolved status satisfies neither those opposed nor those in favor of the project. I used that metaphor while introducing one of the workshops at the SCMA fall conference yesterday, a workshop on urban projects organized by Noah Stein. The panel brought […]

Imagine if one could flip a switch that would cause all the parties to a conflict to change their approach from an adversarial mode of conflict resolution to a problem-solving, or negotiation mode.  In other words, stop arguing with one another, and start talking and listening to one another. That is one way of thinking about what mediators do, and of course it is never as easy as flipping a switch. On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily even require a mediator to make the transition.  On my political blog, I posted something–inspired by my rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah sermon–about the difference between a crisis model and a values model. He was talking about Israel, but the concepts apply to any […]

What a shame, I told the participants in a mediation recently, that you people did not call me when this controversy started as a small, almost neighborly dispute, instead of waiting until it snowballed into a giant lawsuit. In this case, the plaintiff’s claimed damages had greatly escalated due to the delay in resolving the problem. That can happen in real estate or personal property disputes where a property might sit vacant or in deteriorating condition for a long time, and it can also happen in contractual disputes where the harm to one or both parties’ businesses increases by virtue of the continuance of controversy. It can happen in employment litigation when a party’s focus on the injustices of the […]

Some of mediation’s touted benefits include the potential for repairing a broken relationship, or the chance to re-open communications between estranged business partners or a divorcing couple, people who must continue to deal with each other. Mediation can also devise creative solutions that open up if the parties are able to resume or start a new relationship, for example, settling a dispute over poor service or defective products by supplying new products or services. In many lawsuits, however, the parties have no interest in doing any further business with each other. In the garden variety personal injury case between strangers, there is no reason for the parties to desire any future contact, and even in a case that arises out […]