Defining the dispute

Australian Mediation Perspectives

I was recently asked my opinion on a dispute between members of a local association, who were unhappy about past committee decisions; and the association’s current committee members. As I asked questions about the dispute – how it arose, what they wanted to achieve from the mediation process, and who would participate – it became clear that the committee members had not turned their minds to these questions. They had gone from “there is a dispute” to “let’s go to mediation”.

While I encourage people to consider mediation early in the dispute resolution process, it is often helpful to step back and look at the overall picture.

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/domiriel/ Image by Domiriel

I recommend asking the following questions to help define the dispute:

  • What is the issue in dispute? What are the problems to be resolved? Try to focus on actions, behaviours and outcomes rather than on people and personalities.
  • How does…

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