Conflict Resolution

History of the Dispute Resolution Movement

Reasons to Employ Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

Types of Conflict

Family

Business

New Trends in Conflict Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Future of Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is, in its simplest form an attempt by two or more parties to reach and agreement that meets the needs of all parties, without excluding the voice of either and within the range of the ability of both parties to compromise in the face of any given conflict.

The trend toward settling disputes on every level is moving in the clear direction of conflict resolution as a first and/or even last resort, as a result of the desire of many individuals and entities to clearly outline the nature of the needs of those they represent and allow the other party(s) to do the same, so that confusion and misunderstanding is eliminated from the resolution and both parties enter into an agreement, hopefully amiably understanding the rights and responsibilities of the agreement. This work will describe, briefly the history of the trend, the nature of conflict, a few different types of conflict resolution, and lastly discuss new trends in the movement as it expands through time, to better meet the needs of all and help create a system that allows all parties to knowledgeably settle disputes without further conflict, legal action or worse violence.

A quiet revolution is taking place in the methods Americans have available to them for dealing with conflict. Innovations, almost all of them fewer than fifteen years old, are being developed not only to settle disputes out of court, but to supplement or replace the processes used by legislatures to budget funds, by businesses to manage employees, by therapists to treat families, and by diplomats to respond to global crises. There also are new institutions and new methods for resolving conflicts, such as those between neighboring families or countries, that once could be dealt with only by fighting it out with lawyers, with fists, or with armies.

Formal and informal conflict resolution is becoming a preferred method for resolution on many levels, and in many institutions, a greater understanding of conflict resolution is needed to better serve the needs of those who will likely seek it out as a solid alternative to continued conflict in the future.

History of the Dispute Resolution Movement

According to a leading vocal proponent of conflict resolution the formal systems and subsystems that govern the field of conflict resolution have only been in existence for a short time, even though the movement has a strong precedent and an even stronger following in many settings.

The basic history of conflict resolution as a movement has its origins, according to Singer, in the nature of the individualism that has driven the growth and prosperity of the United States, the ideals that encompassed a frontier America with a strong legal focus on instant and sometimes bloody resolution is antiquated and counter productive in a society, attempting to elicit progress in the modern world.

The way we deal with lawbreakers also reflects our frontier and individualistic heritage. Except for the former Soviet Union and South Africa, we lock up more people, for longer periods of time, than any other country in the world. Our civil as well as our criminal courts have been heavily used throughout our history. The public perception of a litigation explosion is not new. De Tocqueville wrote 150 years ago, "Scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question."

Diplomatic resolutions have been attempted by nation and individual since the progressive era in the U.S., as a way in which to resolve problems without violence and retribution. The evolution, of conflict resolution often took place within a civil rights agenda, with proponents of change voicing concern and lobbying for concessions that would have a broader agenda, and then going back home to find that even though laws had successfully been changed minds had not and now illegal acts of discrimination on a very basic level were still taking place. The standard of attempting to make changes through the legal system and the legislative bodies further burdened a ballooning legal system, assigned the task of setting precedent for issues great and small in the definitions of the early nation.

When Americans must use the system -- for example, to handle corporate conflicts over substantial sums or personal problems such as accidents, discrimination, or divorce -- court or administrative action displaces our power over our own disputes. The legal process distorts reality; not only speed and economy but the real issues in dispute and the treatment of disputants by the professional dispute resolvers escape our control. Even top corporate managers feel as if their business problems take on a legal life of their own once they turn them over to lawyers and courts."

Conflict resolution came about as an answer to this system, as a way to resolve conflict, without resorting to legal action as well as with the knowledgeable representation of all parties who wished to participate in resolution, in the hopes that the more people knew about how changes would effect their lives, in an expressive and restrictive manner the more likely they would be to uphold the standards of any agreement. With conflict resolution there is at least the potential for all parties to have some control over delivery of ideas, plan of action for resolution and outcome, where are the legal system offers the individual or entity little voice, as to navigate the system correctly one must appoint a voice and then trust the judgment of that voice, regardless of his or her understanding of the position, desires and needs of the entity, and then allow yet another voice to determine the fate of the conflict, large or small. As a secondary aspect of the growth of conflict resolution even attorneys, the frequent appointed representatives have begun to train in and utilize conflict resolution, as a way to avoid legal action, a promising trend.

Reasons to Employ Conflict Resolution

There are countless reasons why an individual or organization might employ conflict resolution to resolve a problem that can somehow be affected by the actions of another body. Many wish to resolve conflict without the interference of legal issues, unknown to themselves as well as to reduce the overall cost in time and money that is involved with legal action. Additionally, many individuals and organizations have seen conflict resolution elicit results that pale in comparison to those they achieved through legal actions, with the additional positive aspect being an ability to voice its own side of the conflict and needs and to better understand the side of the other party and its needs. Corporate entities and individuals can better represent themselves, as well as feel confident that they understand the various sets of "deal breakers" for the other party.

In many cases conflict resolution is a win, win situation, as both parties achieve a voice and at least some control over the outcome and the problem is resolved without expensive legal fees and expensive uncontrollable delays.

Conflict Resolution

Types of Conflict

Just as there are many types of conflict resolution, there are many more types of conflict that can be arbitrated through its systems and processes. There are three main types of conflict that are particularly adept to conflict resolution systems and they encompass three broad areas of great importance to the individual and the organization, family, business and law. Each area of interest brings with it a different type of conflict and a different set of needed outcomes, creating a need to have different systems and opportunities for resolution.

Family

Examples of conflicts in each equally important entity include in family, lesser and greater conflicts from a personal to a monetary level, everything from family communication disputes arising from everyday issues to legal disputes about household concerns, separation, divorce and a less than everyday issues inheritance. Though the family is more likely to settle issues, depending on the level of importance through unassisted conflict resolution this is changing as more and more councilors become trained mediators and more and more family law specialists seek to bridge conflicts in families without litigation, brought on in great part by the desire to see families obtain workable resolutions to achieve cohesion rather than to feel as if all decisions are being made for them without regard of feelings, social dynamic and/or context. This is especially true in the case of divorce, child custody arrangements, economic issues and even inheritance issues as in a family all of these issues are emotionally charged as well as fundamentally important to those involved, much more so that in business and/or legal realms. The trend toward mediation, in particular in divorce cases and child custody/support situations has revolutionized the manner in which divorces are sought and settled, as more and more people find it agreeable to resolve problems issues and concerns in…