Choosing The Best Conflict Resolution Process: A Case Study

GSBS6100 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

Best Suited Method

A conflict situation arises when two or more parties do not agree over a point. Conflicts can bring a great amount of detriment to the parties if it is not solved in the initial phase and is taken to bigger conflict resolution platforms (Cobb, 2013 p. 24). It arises when there is a disagreement between parties with particulars to when there is a threat to interest and needs.  In order to ensure that the conflicts can be solved in the initial stages it has to be considered that the best possible conflict resolution process is adopted towards solving the conflict. In order to choose the most appropriate form of conflict resolution process various elements if the conflict and the parties to it has to be considered. When the parties presume a dispute situation in relation to contract they prescribe a conflict resolution method which is to be used if the dispute actually arises. However in case such method is not prescribed the character of the parties, the type of conflict, the needs of the parties , how the third person should be selected, the goals of the parties, aspects of the dispute making it agreeable through the use of different processes and what contribution can be made by the parties towards solving the dispute. The dispute resolution process can also be chosen if similar situations had occurred before and a kind of dispute resolution method had been successful in solving the dispute (Wallensteen, 2015 p. 32). Thus the above discussed criterion needs to be taken into account while choosing a perfect process of dispute resolution.

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This section of the paper analyzes which conflict resolution method would be the best possible way of solving the dispute in hand. In this case it has been provided that recently Alicia has got her nose pierced. She had been interested by Ms Connell to remove the piercing. According to her the piercing is not according to the style requirements of the school in relation to the students. The dress code of the school in context (Australian Catholic College) provides that a student may have one piercing in each ear lobe and no reference to facial piercing has been made in the code. Alicia had been suspended as she had not complied with the rules of the school. Parents of the victim are angry over the suspension and have notified the school that they have contacted a lawyer in relation to the dispute. The interest of the Ms Connell is that the family of the student should understand the expected values and standards related to the dress code of the school. It is also the interest of the principle to ensure that the school does not gain any bad publicity. The principle also seeks to minimize the financial cost which might arise out of any legal proceedings taken in this aspect. There has been a similar case in Australia where the school and the parents of a thirteen year old had to bear over a thousand dollars as litigation fees over a petty issue like hair style. The matter had been escalated to the supreme court of New South Wales where the school had to withdraw the expulsion and the boy had to maintain an appropriate hair style. In order to choose a proper conflict resolution method in this case as discussed above the goals of the parties have to be analyzed. The main goal of the parents in this case is to ensure that their child is not suspended. They would also not want to spend much on the litigation process and would not want to endanger the future of their child. Once the goals of the parties have been identified the character of the dispute has to be taken into account. In this case the issue is over a very minor problem that is a piercing. However, all the students of the school would use the case as an example to justify their behavior which they might potentially commit in the future.

Application of Mediation

It has already been discussed above that the issue is between a school and the parents of one of its students. All that which the school would want in the provided circumstances is that the issue is solved without any fuss and no financial or loss of reputation is caused to the school. The school would also want in the circumstances that the value which it possesses in relation to the dress code of the student is maintained. In this case it has to be conveyed to the parents that the school has no intention to harass them or their child. There is no personal grudge which the school is taking out on the school is taking out on the child. In addition it has to be made clear to the school that suspending a student is not a way in which these sensitive issues can be solved. If the school would have handled the matter calmly and used negotiation as a method to solve the dispute than they could have been able to come to a compromise with the student and her parents and the dispute would have been solved. However the conflict has reached such a position where it cannot be solved through the process of negotiation which involves two parties discussing and coming to a conclusion in relation to the dispute. In this case the parents have already angrily engaged a lawyer and they would not be wanting to negotiate with the school about the matter. In the provided circumstances as the parties goals are different to each other and the issue has reached a stage where they cannot mutually solve the situation the best possible conflict resolution method would be the use of mediation where a chosen third party would help the parties to the dispute to come to a common solution.

Mediation is a process where the dispute is solved by a third part through making the parties to the dispute achieve a common solution. This form of dispute resolution is rapid, low cost and ensures a result in most situations (Fry & Bjorkqvist, 2013 p. 423). It is a structured, dynamic and interactive process where the parties to the dispute are handled by a “neutral” third party. The process encourages all the participants involved to participate actively. A wide variety of techniques is used by the mediator to guide the process in a direction which is constructive and from where an optimum solution is received. The role of the mediator in this process is also to facilitate open conversations between the parties. It is also the role of the mediator to analyze the relative norms and the issue but not provide any prospective advice to the disputed parties for example (you should do…) any instance in which the third party helps the other to reach a proper conclusion is termed as mediation (Levine, Taylor & Best, 2011 p. 222). The process in confidential and private and does not involve any other person than the parties to the dispute and the mediator. Unlike litigation, in which the whole society gets to know about the dispute and the goodwill of the parties is subjected to detriment. The participation in the process of mediation is voluntary and no parties can be forced to undergo the process. It is a solution which is peaceful and is one of the best ways to solve the dispute. A dispute of any magnitude can be resolved through the use of mediation however mediation has been most successful in addressing small issues related to petty problems (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2011 p. 73). Various techniques like improve or open empathy and dialogue between the parties to the dispute is used by the mediators with the aim of making the parties reach an agreement. The process largely depends upon the intent of the parties and training and skills of the mediators.

The goals of the both the parties to the dispute is to avoid spending a large amount of cost on the process of litigation. The process of mediations is not even close to what is charged in the process of litigation. Even though a fees is charged by the mediator it is not as much as that of an attorney and moreover as the process takes a very little comparative time the cost becomes all the more less.

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The parties in this case also do not want bad publicity and loss of reputation. The process of mediation is very confidential and secure. What happed during the process would only be limited to the parties to the dispute and what happened during the process would only remain between the parties and the mediator. The control of the dispute would also lie in the hands of the parties which would not have been the same in case of litigation where the control would be in the hands of the judge. In the provided scenario in order to solve the issue the mediator has to take an evidence based approach. It has been given in the rules of the school that the students are only allowed to make one piercing on the ear lobe. Nothing has been mentioned about piercing on the face or any other place. It has to be made clear to the parents that with this rule the intention of the court is to ensure that no student within the school premises has an inappropriate piercing. It may be regarded as an implied terms of a contract which is obvious and necessary. Moreover according to the rules of statutory interpretation the purpose of the whole act is considered to interpret a provision whereas in this case of the purpose of the rules is to be considered than it must be concluded that the rules does not allow any other kind of piercing other than one on the ear lobe. With respect to the interest of the parents the school has to be made understood by citing the example of the recent hair style case in Australia that suspending a student over a petty issue like piercing is not right.

The selection of mediation in this case as compared to any their dispute resolution method has various reasons. This section of the paper analyzes why the process of mediation has been recommended over other processes of conflict resolution (Halperin, 2014 p. 213). It has already been discussed above that in order to choose the best possible conflict resolution method elements such as the goal of the parties and the character of the dispute has to be taken into account. It had been provided clearly in the scenario that the school does not what to spend much on legal fees. Therefore if the parties to this dispute opt for litigation rather than mediation they would have to go through a long period of trial. During this period they would be subjected to various expenses like litigation fees, lawyer’s fees and other miscellaneous expenses.  There is no guarantee that for how long would the process of litigation would continue and the fees would keep on compounding over the years. If mediation is adopted the only fee which the parties have to pay would be the charge of the mediator if any charged by him or her. The process is guaranteed to be quick and flexible and thus there is no fear of rising cost. On the other hand the parties can even save the mediation fee if the opt for the process of negotiation. However it has already been discussed above that the issue has reached such a stage where the parents of the child are thinking of appointing a lawyer. In case the parties choose to appoint an arbitrator to solve the problems existing between then it would be very unwise as the issue is very small to be addressed by the arbitrator (Rapoport, 2012 p. 121). Moreover a mediator would have a better role to plan than an arbitrator in a case of this value. There is no point involving the process of negotiation to solve the problem as without a mediator the problem might get worse. Thus in relation to cost the best recommended conflict resolution process would be mediation.

It has also been asked by the school that they do not want any kind of bad publicity. If the parties choose the process of litigation it would not only bring bad publicity to the school but also to the student. The process of litigation is a public process which provides all the information to public. This information can be interpreted in different ways by the public which can bring a bad name for the parties as was the case in the situation of the hair style case where the school had to face a lot of bad publicity and the parents had to spend over a thousand dollars in litigation. If the process of negotiation in chosen than there are high chances that the parties would try to bring a bad name for each other if the process fails in the absence of any evidence or has already been discussed above that the process of mediation provides privacy and what happens in the meeting is only between the parties and the mediator (Hipel, Kilgour & Fang, 2011 p. 33-37). Thus the process would ensure that the issue is solved without bringing a bad name for the parties. The process of litigation and negotiation would also not provide control to the parties to attain there interest which in case of mediation can be attained more easily and quickly by the parties.


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