Often the idea of dealing with conflict leaves us anxious, frightened and sometimes, angry. Those powerful emotions can put us at considerable disadvantage before we’ve even started to deal with the conflict in front of us.
The multiple costs of unresolved conflict
The cost of unresolved conflict is enormous. Emotional, financial and even professional costs can begin to encroach into all areas of our lives. If we remain stuck, frozen with fear or focussed on avoidance as a strategy, the costs will continue to escalate and the challenge of dealing with the conflict becomes insurmountable.
Change the mindset: Dealing with conflict is an opportunity to get on with life
The first emotion most people feel when they make the decision to deal with conflict impacting their life, is relief. Making the decision to deal with conflict can be one of the most important steps in the entire resolution process – it can be the moment people become solution-focused, imagining a way to move forward into the future without the stress, cost and fatigue of ongoing conflict and dispute.
Dealing with conflict doesn’t have to be expensive, drawn-out and in the public realm.
Mediation as a means to approach and resolve conflict makes sense on a number of fronts, but three unique factors make it a pragmatic and appealing alternative to court: cost, time and confidentiality.
The financial cost of going to court is enormous – often without an end in sight. Some people discover they have spent huge sums of money by the time they have a court decision, which creates an entirely new set of problems. This kind of outcome puts additional strain on the parties and in some cases reduces the ‘level playing field’, especially if one party has much deeper pockets than the other. At mediation, fees are fixed and spread equally between parties (with the exception of any fees for legal representation, which is not compulsory).
The court process can also be long and drawn out, making it difficult to plan and get on with life. Instead, the parties feel ‘stuck’, with the process stalling due to factors beyond the parties’ control, such as the backlog of cases before the courts and the long wait for a decision. Mediation usually takes between 1 and 3 days and parties are active participants in the process from the outset, having a clear understanding of the steps involved in mediation and the path to potential resolution.
Finally, mediation is confidential which is often a very important factor for both parties. Nobody wants their aggrievances aired in public, especially if the aim is to face the conflict, resolve it and move on with life. Knowing the mediation process is confidential can erode some of the anxieties and fear of conflict resolution. When resolving conflict through the court system, the dispute becomes a matter of public record which could disadvantage one or both of the parties in the future.
Mediation means the parties and not a judge, decide on the best way forward
The formal setting in a court room and difficult to understand legal language used by lawyers and the judge, can add to the anxiety of dealing with conflict. Mediation on the other hand, is a flexible process held in an informal setting where honesty and respectful and open communication is encouraged. Mediators facilitate a process where parties are encouraged to design their own solutions to reach mutually agreed outcomes – which can be an empowering and highly effective process and path to resolving conflict.
And finally, life’s too short to go to court.
There is a small number of people who will only face conflict by having their day in court. For the rest of us, there is a better way forward. Making the decision to resolve a debilitating conflict is the hardest part of any dispute resolution. But once both parties have committed to mediation, the process can be less stressful than once feared.
At Fresh Start we are committed to helping parties move forward to resolve their dispute efficiently through an affordable and confidential process. We don’t take sides and we don’t provide legal advice. We do, however, help parties to find a way forward and resolve the dispute between them, so they can get on with their lives.
Because life’s too short to go to court.
To help you prepare for mediation, we have created a library of helpful information including checklists, tips and added detail around the process of mediation. For useful and relevant information you can download for free, we encourage you to visit our resources page.
The thought of entering into mediation as a way to address conflict - whether it’s a family, work or a commercial matter - can be terrifying for a lot of people. Dread doesn’t even begin to explain it. As mediators, some of the best advice we can give, is to be prepared. And sometimes, that involves seeking the advice of specialists.
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