The best approach to successful dispute management is to understand its purpose as a form of alternative dispute resolution that differs from court litigation in a few important respects. It should be viewed as a chance to learn what each party's motivations are. Those participating in dispute management should keep an open mind and think in terms of reaching a consensus versus entering the process with a fixed "bottom line." Knowing the real facts of the disagreement and keeping those separate from emotional factors can help achieve successful dispute management.
Managing disputes through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation is a positive decision under most circumstances. It is less time consuming and expensive than litigation and is more informal, allowing for a broader exploration of the underlying issues. There are no set procedural rules. The goal is to reach a consensus where both parties feel that they have come away having a resolved the dispute and learned what attitudes brought it about. Entering mediation or any alternative dispute resolution in a spirit consistent with these goals is an important part of successful dispute management.
Civility is a key factor to successful dispute management. This applies to everyone involved in the process, including any mediator or facilitator. Treating others as you would like to be treated can make the dispute resolution process much more effective. Participants who listen and ask constructive questions can help uncover previously hidden motivations for the other party's behaviors, allowing them to more fully understand the reasons for their position.
Listening is important in terms of not only the other party but also everyone involved in the process. Mediators have experience in the areas under dispute and a commitment to resolving disputes to the satisfaction of both parties. Many mediators also have formal training in addition to their experience. Listening to and thinking objectively about the mediator’s view of the dispute can lead to a better understanding of the issues or a reevaluation of a participant's position.
Participants in dispute management should make as realistic an assessment of the situation, including their own behaviors that may have led to the dispute. Being open about the real issues, looking at the other party's perspective and thinking beyond the dispute are all helpful tips for dispute management. Making this effort can be important if the relationship with the other party will continue once the dispute is resolved, for instance situations like the dissolution of a marriage with children involved, or a business or employment relationship.