Resolving Your Dispute

No matter how well we get along with people, problems can arise. If disputes are not dealt with, they can grow out of proportion.

A problem is a situation that calls for a change, a solution, or an answer. There are many different types of problems and we all face and solve problems every day. Sometimes people can’t solve a problem on their own, especially if the problem involves other people.

If people disagree or can’t decide about a situation we sometimes call that a dispute. Disputes often include such things as choices, decisions, actions, goals and consequences. Disputes can be a friendly difference of opinion, a misunderstanding, or a really serious argument or fight about something. Disputes escalate into Conflict when they become entrenched and sustained over a period of time; emotions, perspective and behaviour is guided and impacted by the situation.

Here are some suggestions for preventing and managing disputes.

What you can do yourself

  • If you don’t already know the person well, try to get to know them.
  • Consult people before you take any action that may impact on them.
  • Take people’s concern’s seriously, even if they seem small issues to you.
  • When people feel heard and understood it is easier to work through a problem.
  • Don't assume the other person knows there is a problem – often they don't.
  • Sometimes it is a simple misunderstanding.
  • Discuss your approach with friends or family. They may have some useful ideas.
  • Make an attempt to talk or write to the person before involving authorities or other agencies.
  • Remember to focus on the problem not the person.
  • Work on what you can change, not what you can't.
  • If you and the other person cannot agree on a change, try implementing some strategies to reduce stress.
  • Ask for help, seek advice.

There are also some links on this website that can take you to information that can help you with specific types of dispute.

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Tips for better communication

  • Face to face is better than letters or messages where there is no threat of violence.
  • Right time and enough time is important.
  • Think ahead about what you have to say. State your concerns clearly and how you feel.
  • Listen to the other person and be prepared to understand their concerns.
  • Acknowledge what they have told you to reassure them you have heard.
  • Focus on the problem not the person. Do not blame, attack or threaten them.
  • Work together to find and explore options that meet each of your needs.
  • Not all problems can be resolved, but all disputes can be managed.

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Approaching someone about a problem

what is important to you – your needs and concerns.
a time and a place to discuss it with the other person – where both of you are comfortable and ready to talk.
your concerns – from your point of view. Explain how you feel – do not attack or make accusations.
the other person respond. Their first response may be angry or upset. Give them time to understand.
the concerns of the other person – and show you have heard. Give yourself time to understand them.
all the issues which are of concern. A ‘minor’ issue left unsaid can become a major argument later on.
about a range of possible solutions. The best ideas are not always the first ones. Work towards agreement that satisfy the needs of both (‘win-win’)
about what you have agreed on. Check your understanding with the other person. Ideally you may wish to put agreements in writing.
with each other after a while to see how things are going. If need be, make changes to the agreement together.
yourself and the other person to be human, to make mistakes, to get emotional, to be irrational, to be imperfect.
that sometimes a dispute can be too difficult to resolve; a sensible approach does not always work.

How to get advice & referral

Simply contact us via phone, email or fax and experienced staff will:

  • Talk to you about the issues and discuss ways that you can resolve the dispute yourself;
  • Provide you with relevant information or referral to other agencies.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a way to bring people together to talk about any problems. It is a step-by-step way to talk through issues and work things out.

Mediation can help you to:

  • Put everything in perspective and decide what is most important to you;
  • Look at a situation from different angles, which can help you find a solution;
  • Get you talking with the other person involved;
  • Make sure the other person understands your point of view and you understand theirs;
  • Work something out together that everyone involved can live with.

Two mediators who have nothing to do with the argument will sit down with you and help you to talk about the problem and help you work out a way to fix the problem. They don’t make any decisions for you and they don’t take sides. They just help you to have a conversation in a particular way, to help you make decisions together about a situation.

No matter what problem you have, please feel welcome to drop in or phone and speak to one of our staff about how we can assist you.

How do I decide if mediation is the best option?

Mediation works best when there is a particular disagreement or conflict that could be worked through and solved. It also helps if both sides are willing to talk it through together. It is also important that everyone feels safe to agree and disagree with each other.

Staff at CRS can talk with you about the issues and discuss whether mediation is the best option for you. They can discuss ways you can resolve things yourself, or provide you with information that might help.

For instance, if the issue is more about changing things about yourself, or if it is about your feelings and how you are coping with a situation, there might be other options like counselling that could work better. The staff at CRS can help you decide and assist you to contact other services that might be able to help too.

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