Conflict is a pervasive part of life. Guided Resolution’s web-based portal seeks to transform the way in which it can be managed between disputing parties quickly, at a low cost and in a spirit of cooperation designed to achieve a win/win outcome that both sides can live with.
Our conflict management tool can be used in a range of contexts and seeks to shift the reliance away from costly external institutions (such as tribunals and courts) that can be foreign and uncomfortable environments for many people who would generally prefer to resolve disputes themselves.
A self-help alternative that is easy to access and use can empower people to pursue early, pre-action resolution which can decrease polarisation and preserve relationships, contributing to a reduction in the overall costs associated with conflict.
The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery framework can be readily integrated with institutional protocols that already exist.
Conflict is almost always easiest to resolve before positions becomes locked-in. A metaphor often used is that of an iceberg whereby one’s stated position represents the visible tip yet, hidden beneath the surface are many contributing factors such as history and emotions.
Good communication is essential to conflict resolution. People often need help to slow down and think about their disputes in different ways. They need guidance on identifying the issues and stumbling blocks to be negotiated.
Negotiations conducted in the spirit of voluntary self-help can bypass the need for mediation services unless absolutely necessary and prevent positions becoming further entrenched over time.
The longer a dispute continues, each party will find reasons to blame the other, become more convinced of their own righteousness, and forget that there are almost always two sides (and sometimes more) to any dispute. This sets up an environment whereby parties compete believing that their goals are incompatible.
Early intervention helps minimise the impact of harmful misconceptions and biases that prevent people from finding a future-focused outcome that meets the mutual needs and interests of the parties. Often the result is considerable cost and the complete destruction of relationships, even if the relationships were valuable before the dispute occurred.
Many people associate negotiation with positional bargaining which focuses on ‘stated wants’ and limits the degree of collaboration that can occur between the parties. It also assumes a fixed amount to be distributed resulting in win/lose outcomes.
By thinking about and exploring underlying interests, the parties can open up a new, more constructive dialogue because people may have one position but, typically, many interests. What are interests?
Positions are our stated wants for a particular issue whereas interests are the needs, hopes and concerns that motivate us to hold these positions and could include:
- Lifestyle (e.g. less stress)
For example, a position would be ‘I want a salary of $70,000’ or ‘I want the job promotion’ whereas the underlying interest could be ‘I need to cover my mortgage repayments’ or ‘I would enjoy the travel that the promotion offers’.
When parties are guided to consider mutual interests, they are better placed to shift the focus from attacking each other personally and, instead, addressing the problem cooperatively and creatively to conceive outcomes that benefit both sides – win/win.
The enormous growth in Internet speed and availability has made it less important for people to be in the same place at the same time when resolving their disputes. Direct negotiation technology is a more efficient means of resolving less complicated disputes compared to relying on a human mediator, as it fashions a more economically viable model capable of coping with high case volumes.
Our SaaS enables many types of conflict to be dealt with in a way that is both:
- scalable – in that there is no need for physical meeting space or the initial presence of the human third party; and
- convenient – ‘24/7’ availability without travel, scheduling difficulties and associated costs.
Also, screen-to-screen communication is insensitive to power imbalances and can level the playing field for users from different backgrounds. Technology can also be used to help people communicate what is happening in a basic, structuralised form.
Organisations and agencies which incorporate leading dispute resolution protocols with their structures may significantly improve their stakeholder relations and competitiveness.
Conflict can be managed positively if non-adversarial tools are available that address the following:
- Convenient – online and accessible
- Early – before positions become entrenched
- Cooperative – oriented towards win/win outcomes
- Control – to empower parties from different backgrounds
Yes, resolving conflicts through cooperative negotiation is not only ethical practice but a public policy imperative. Our software embodies a collaborative win/win approach; an ethical path to achieve successful outcomes in the 21st century global village.
Our overarching mission is resource users to resolve disputes themselves to reduce the burden on taxpayer-funded dispute resolution infrastructure. The volume of self-represented litigants is growing, creating a costly impost on the whole system. Without proper funding, court services will run down and the public will lose confidence in the justice system; an acute concern for any society that values the rule of law.