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Disputes start out as simple annoyances or complaints before turning into conflicts. Most companies and individuals overlook the early warnings or try to "band-aid" the problem. How to address a dispute is a skill. Generally, we avoid dealing with a problem until it becomes a real crisis in our life. The end result is usually the same, either you address it now and pay... or pay for it later. Waiting for problems to fester not only affects us financially, but also these problems infect our health and positive state of mind.  Addressing problems, disagreements, annoyances or complaints immediately reduces our 'worry-time' freeing us up for more productive uses of our time and money.

Below are several approaches to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Unlike legal litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution is are private and confidential. Settlements are legally enforceable in the United States and in most countries.

The ombudsman provides an opportunity for informal discussion of problems and complaints outside formal channels. The ombudsman is a conflict resolution and conflict prevention specialist. The ombudsman listens, discusses, answers questions, provides information, and identifies options and strategies for resolving a situation. The Ombudsman can advise you of your rights and responsibilities, but cannot provide legal advice.

Many disputes and complaints can be solved by having a neutral third party intervene as a facilitator and negotiator on our behalf. Facilitated negotiation is at the core of most Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes. It encourages an exchange of information and resolution options between parties. The interests and positions are defined and validated to craft a mutually agreeable compromise and settlement.

The Mediation process involves a series of joint sessions and private caucuses. Mediation is a very flexible process that can be effectively used at any time during the course of the dispute. Because the mediation process is non-adversarial, there are numerous benefits over litigation in addition to saving time and money. The goal of mediation is to amicably resolve a dispute through voluntary efforts of the parties. The role of the mediator is to utilize patience, persuasion, and people skills to facilitate the conversation in order to explore options and reach settlement. Mediation is a voluntary process. When options are not easily forthcoming, the mediator(s) utilizes their experience and expertise to suggest possible outcomes. This process is referred to as Conciliation. Both Mediation and Conciliation allows the parties to maintain relationships and offers the greatest opportunity for creative problem solving.

It is an adversarial process where a neutral Arbitrator renders a decision, called an award, after there has been a presentation of evidence. Like a court trial, arbitration may include representation by legal counsel, pre-hearing discovery, written briefs, examination of witnesses and oral argument. The Arbitrator's decision is final.

Sometimes when negotiations and mediation do not provide desired outcomes. Litigation is the best action. Legal litigation is costly and time-consuming. It should be used only as the last resort. Read more information in our Alternative Dispute Resolution section:  www.ADRFAQ.com