Disputes and conflict of any kind can trigger emotions and bring out the worst in people and will quite often lead to long term consequences. Preparation is key to planning for effective negotiations and a settlement. There are a few simple steps to help you move forward from a situation that may seem untenable. 

1. The way forward

Make some enquiries about the types of dispute resolution processes available that is relevant to your dispute. This may include engaging a lawyer, seeking information from Government agencies or community legal centres that can advise you on your legal position.  You may be advised to consider resolving your dispute with legal action. Tribunals and courts are often choked which causes delay in being heard and it can be costly in ongoing legal fees while the dispute continues. There is another way forward, which is easy to access, less adversarial and you can engage in with or without a legal representative. At Mediator Hub we provide a fixed fee mediation service designed to help you engage meaningfully with each other to empower you to find a way forward to settle.

2. Stop the blame game and focus on the problem

Identify the issues that you are hoping to settle and briefly outline your concerns in a factual manner. It is important to remain objective and keep your outline brief.  Many mediations de-rail because the focus switches from problem solving to blaming which can be counter-productive.  A skilled mediator will recognise when parties need to re-focus on the issues.

3. Mind your language

Quite often lawyers are engaged to negotiate on behalf of clients because they can detach from the emotions that arise from disputes. Consider how you can refrain from using dialogue that may inflame the matter and exercise neutral terms when communicating your interests.

4. Walk in the shoes of others 

The principle of negotiation does not mean repeating yourself over and over, stamping your feet and making demands. Consider how the problem is affecting the other party and approach the problem solving with their interests in mind as well as yours. 

5. Get creative with your options

Not everything has to be divided, some dilemmas can be solved where everyone achieves what they want or at the very least what they are satisfied with.  It is worth remembering that the more options you have to put forward the more choice there is and the greater the chance of ‘buy in’. Don’t forget to be open to hearing all the options too.

6. Get real

You may wish to consult with your legal adviser prior to mediation to understand what the next steps are to establish what you are willing to accept before pursuing other dispute resolution processes. The mediation model is designed to encourage shared participation to settling the terms of an agreement and it is designed to save you money and time, notwithstanding produce an outcome that all parties can live with. Unlike mediation, determinative processes such as tribunal or court proceedings are limited to the scope of decision makers who may only apply legal principles to your dispute. There is generally one winner and one loser. That’s why it’s often referred to as a contest.