Breaking the impasse… resolving conflict using mediation techniques

The seemingly interminable failure of MPs to agree Britain’s withdrawal agreement from the EU is typical of many intractable disputes. At some point in our lives, most of us will find ourselves at odds with someone over something. Each person will have their own ideas about what’s right (usually based on what’s most important to them) but that can result in both parties being totally unable to agree an outcome – and a stalemate ensues.

Breaking that impasse can seem difficult, if not impossible. And that’s where mediation comes in. A form of dispute resolution used to prevent (or conclude) court proceedings. Here are ten useful techniques used in mediation to help find a settlement:

1. PARTICIPATION: It’s important that both parties are willing to engage in the process, can put forward proposals as well as consider any proposals received.

2. EVIDENCE: Both parties must be upfront and make available all key documentary evidence – so each side can understand the other’s position.

3. STATE YOUR POSITION: Make your position clear at the outset, as it may be that one party has misinterpreted the other’s position. Explain what you believe to be right and what you hope to achieve.

4. WORK TOWARDS A SETTLEMENT: Initially, each party’s aim will be to win, but it’s important to realise that resolution isn’t going to be a ‘win’ for one and a ‘loss’ for another – it will be a compromise that enables both parties to move on.

5. BE RESPECTFUL: Whatever your feelings, it’s important to treat the other party with respect. Being insulting only creates more barriers and makes it more difficult for any resolution to be achieved.

6. BE PERSUASIVE: Highlight the merits of your position so the other party can see that their point of view may not be as strong as they originally believed. This can also bring the other party’s attention to the mutual benefits of a deal.

7. INTERESTS: Identifying the other party’s interests can be difficult – but once you’ve asked questions and gleaned more information on what they want to achieve, you’ll have a much better understanding of what can be done.

8 . BRAINSTORMING: Neither party is going to leave with a settlement that includes everything they want. Explore and identify options which will satisfy both parties.

9. EMOTION: Although all conflict gives rise to anger and frustration, it’s important to keep your emotions in check so you are able to think clearly and practically.

10. PATIENCE: A fully-informed overview can take time before a final settlement is reached, so try and remain patient – it will pay off eventually!

If you’re currently locked in a dispute and would like to find a way out, call Hayes + Storr on 01328 863231 and ask to speak to Amanda Nudds. If you require advice on any other legal matter call 01760 724424 or email

Courtesy of Hayes+Storr– 17/04/2019

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