Mediation Conflict Resolution and Arbitration Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The study showed that "a shift from people-oriented to mainly project-related sources of conflict occurred" (Correia, p. 20). These conflicts were mainly described as project deadlines, final product expectations, quality criteria, the design elements, theory of instruction(s) and technology usage.

As one participant in the study stated; "in the beginning they were overloaded with the amount of work they were expected to the project evolved their focus shifted to the project itself" (Correia, p. 21).

Recent evidence provides enough commentary to believe that managing conflicts in a quick and efficient manner has impacted the business community and the ethics practiced by a vast majority of the individuals making business decisions. A study conducted in 2004 contends that "more managers are now likely to select ethically appropriate actions either because it is ethical to do so, or because the consequences or risk of not doing so are too great" (Premeaux, 2004, p. 270). If this is true, then conflict management becomes even more important to solving societal and business woes in the future.

Positional vs. Interest-Based Bargaining

Two of the more prevalent styles of bargaining and mediation include the positional and the interest-based methods. The most popular method is called interest-based or the integrative method of bargaining. A mediator can often call two sides together using interest-based methods to decide how to create a 'win-win' situation. A win-win situation is usually predicated upon both parties being able to facilitate a compromise that meets the highest amount of interests of each participant. It is in that method that each party wins. Since the integrative method only works when there are multiple issues, and since most conflicts involve more than just one issue, this method is seen as the 'fairest' method of achieving success. An integrative method "refers to the potential for the parties interests to be combined in ways that create joint value" (Watkins, Rosegrant, 2001, p. 31).

Both parties in the conflict using an integrative method have a joint desire to come to an amicable solution. This is not necessarily true when using the positional method. The positional method is used when each party has its own position and does not wish to see a win-win solution, but would much rather see a win-lose scenario (with themselves as the winners of course). The integrative method is going to take a long look at the issues behind the positions, while the positional method is used to decide a conflict based only upon the decisions.

Most mediation scholars prefer the interest-based bargaining because there are two winners rather than a winner and a loser in each conflict. The possible outcome is affected based on the approach and it is much easier for a mediator to offer a compromise between two parties, than it would be to give the entire prize to one position over another. Positional bargaining seems to be a much more rigid approach and is based on fixed viewpoints with little regard for the opposing point-of-view. Interest-based bargaining takes all issues and positions into account, and provides a much more flexible alternative when compared to positional bargaining.

Active Listeners

Many mediators have also gained the ability to be active listeners. "Active listening intentionally focuses on who you are listening to, whether in a group or one-on-one, in order to understand what he or she is saying. As the listener, you should then be able to repeat back in your own words what they have said to their satisfaction. This does not mean you agree with, but rather understand, what they are saying" (Study Guides, 1996).

Active listening can be culturally difficult to experience, especially in today's society where citizens seem to be continually surrounded by noise. One professor recently taught a course that allowed students to listen to silence. The professor had this to say about the students who were asked to practice contemplative listening for a period of fifteen minutes; "how can we teach young Americans to listen to silence? The noise of our lives is -- sometimes literally -- deafening" (Nelson, 2006, p. 1734).

The professor related a personal encounter in which she was eating dinner in a restaurant and watched as a mother pulled the earphones off the young teenager's head to speak to him, and then replaced the earphones when she had finished. The

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