In this booming economy and the competitive world, it is natural for people to have opposing interests, needs and values. Having a conflict is not a problem; rather people live with it every day. Conflicts become harmful only when they take the shape of disputes. Disputes can occur between family members, relatives, friends, acquaintances, businesses as well as between the state and individual citizens. Disputes can also be international. Governments or companies of two countries may enter into a dispute. The problem with disputes is that they cannot be ignored, causes real damage and can bring life and business to a standstill.

Interestingly in some situations, conflicts can also be positive if they are dealt with constructively. For example, disputes can bring differences of view ‘out in the open’, they lead people to deal with issues together rather than stay isolated, they stimulate change and progress, and they can ‘clear the air’ between parties. However, if they are not dealt with and resolved effectively, they can be very harmful. Disputes:

can be stressful and physically and psychologically draining

can sour and even destroy relationships

are time-consuming

divert people’s attention and energy away from more useful activity

can be costly – in terms of the interruption of normal relations (e.g. supply of service or goods) or the expenses of dealing with the conflict

can make other problems or issues more difficult to resolve too.

Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution refers to methods used by trained neutrals to help people to communicate more clearly, negotiate effectively, develop and evaluate solutions, or resolve conflicts. Neutrals do not take sides or represent the parties. Dispute resolution is an interdisciplinary field that attracts neutrals from backgrounds like human resources, law and social work. The term dispute resolution may also be used interchangeably with conflict resolution. Some generally known dispute resolution mechanisms include;

1. Lawsuits (litigation)

2. Arbitration

3. Mediation

4. Conciliation

5. Negotiation

6. Facilitation, and

7. Collaborative Law