The use and effectiveness of various dispute resolution techniques strongly depends on such factors as the severity of the conflict, its origins, the number of opposing sides, their willingness to collaborate with one another, and presence of common objectives (Mackie, 1991). The case of Carmen and Juanita is rather complicated: first, participants are inclined to shift blame on one another. Secondly, this situation is not just the conflict of two sisters: the thing is that other siblings do not want to reconcile Carmen and Juanitas feud, more likely, they are hostile towards both of them. Thus we have three opposing parties which cannot come to the agreement.
Nonetheless, there are some circumstances that can help to restore peace or at least to arrange a truce. It is quite possible to argue that all of the siblings are interested in continuous flourishing of their family business, namely restaurant, and they are very much concerned about their financial well-being. To a certain degree, this is a common denominator that can consolidate them or alleviate their tensions. Secondly, we can conjecture that all of them want to preserve the unity of their family. The methods that we are going to discuss bear strong resemblance to one another. The essence lies in the search of compromise or minimization of harm; the main distinction between them is the role of the third party who can act as an advisor, consultant, guide or even judge.
Such method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as mediation can be effectively used for this problem. The mediator can formulate a compromise suitable for the three sides; the thing is that very often people are blinded by their own ambitions and this eventually leads them to a deadlock. On such conditions it might be prudent to call for the assistance of an outsider who remains unbiased and open minded.
- Provided that this technique has been chosen, the fist step is to organize a meeting at the neutral territory. It is necessary to select a place that would be unfamiliar neither to Carmen nor to Juanita. Calm atmosphere frequently lays foundations for good communication process.
- Additionally, the mediator must establish rules of discussion, particularly; he or she needs to reduce the possibility of mutual insults, interruptions, accusations and so forth as they may only intensify animosity among these people (Mareschal, 2002).
- Each participant (Carmen, Juanita and other siblings) must be given an opportunity to express his or her point of view on the problem. Most importantly, they must propose their solutions for this issue. If their talks are held in a suitable environment, the opposing sides can come to the consensus even without mediators recommendations. It is vital to persuade these people to be more empathetic to one another. Without it there is very little probability of productive cooperation.
Nevertheless, sometimes this counselor has to intervene; he or she can propose his own approach and measures that should be taken in order to work out the truce. The mediator should set stress on the fact that Juanita has proved rather efficient in her capacity of a restaurant manager. Besides, she is qualified in this area. Thus, she should occupy this position in the future. However, it should be borne in mind that Carmen has a made a considerable contribution to the family business by assisting parents for many years.
Hence, it is quite just to pay for treatment and give her a more privileged position in the workplace hierarchy if she overcomes her addiction to alcoholic beverages. As a matter of fact, we cannot point out the main culprit in this dispute as each of the participants can advance very convincing arguments. It should be mentioned that a mediator can only suggest but the main decisions are taken by opposing sides but not force them to actions.
In this regard, we can refer to another method of conflict resolution, arbitration. It is based on the same principles: impartiality or orientation on the solution suitable for all sides. But the key difference is that the decision of the arbiter is often obligatory, and each party has to comply with it. This is one of the most widespread strategies for the settlement of disputes. Yet, there is one limitation: arbitration tribunal is possible only when each person gives his or her consent (Mackie, 1991).
Juanita may simply refuse to take part in this process because according to the parents will she is the rightful manager of the restaurant thus, she can run it in the manner she sees fit. The major drawback of this approach is that it focuses only on legal facet of this problem. Carmen may receive compensation for her injury but arbitral tribunal will not restore the unanimity in this family. There is the so-called non-binding arbitration which means that the consultant or any third party only explains the rights of each participant and proposes recommendations but they are not compulsory (Mackie, 1991). It can be observed that arbitration and mediation are analogous to one another because both of them rely on the use of counseling but arbitration focuses on handling legal controversies. Usually, the task of such arbiter is to help people make informed and balanced decision.
The third method of conflict resolution is negotiation; to some degree it is similar to the previous methods as it consists of guiding the talks and consulting. However, mediators and arbiters must remain objective, without taking sides, whereas the negotiator can support one of the parties. Under such scenario, the negotiator will place emphasis on the rectitude of Juanita or Carmen. Still, in such cases, he or she has to bargain for collective advantage. The following tasks should be carried out:
- to outline legal perspectives of this dispute;
- to identify mutual goals, like prosperity and good relationships between family members;
- to propose the ways of handling the controversy;
- to convince each person that this is the most beneficial solution for each of them.
The functions of a negotiator are very reminiscent to those ones of a mediator, but the former takes more active part. Overall, this case may be resolved without intervention of judicial power. Moreover, the Solis family will not be ripped apart but this result may be achieved only if each of them (Carmen, Juanita and their relatives) finds courage and strength to put oneself into the position of others. Otherwise, the probability of success is rather slim even despite the efforts of the best counselors and mediators. The main problem is that under such circumstances, people are disinclined to think about the difficulties of others and this stubbornness is virtually insurmountable sometimes.
This survey of ADR strategies has demonstrated that in their core they are based on the search for compromise which is appropriate for each side of the dispute. The third party or mediator has to adhere to the principles of impartiality, confidentiality, and mutual benefit. Several tactics can be applied to the scenario of Carmen and Juanita Solis: mediation, arbitration and negotiation. Arguably, mediation is the best approach because it settles not only legal disputes but helps members of the family understand each other better and establish productive relations with one another. The person who intends to act as a counselor must have such qualities as flexibility, ability to make strong-willed decisions and persuasive skills.
Mackie K. J. A (1991). Handbook of Dispute Resolution: ADR in Action. New York. Routledge.
Mareschal. P. M (2002). Introduction: New Frontiers in Alternative Dispute Resolution. International Journal of Public Administration, vol. 25, issue, 11, p 1255.