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A business dispute can occur between an employer and employee, between more than one employee, or between two or more distinct businesses, which means the business dispute resolution techniques one can employ will vary depending on the situation. As a manager, employee, mediator, or an impartial party brought in to help resolve the issue, a person must be careful not to favor one side over the other and to make sure both sides feel as though their grievances are being addressed respectfully and thoroughly. Business dispute resolution cannot occur while the two or more parties are angry; diffusing the situation to a point that conversation is possible is the first and most important step of business dispute resolution.
It is generally a good idea to allow a "cooling off period" before trying to tackle the business dispute resolution. This allows all parties involved to calm down and think more rationally about the situation. Tempers may flare up again later, but if mediation occurs immediately, tempers are just about guaranteed to flare up. A cooling off period also allows a mediator to collect information about the situation and think of ways to rectify it. If the dispute is between two businesses, this period may allow the businesses to find a suitable mediator as well, someone who is impartial and experienced in dispute resolution.
Business dispute resolution should be tailored to find an acceptable outcome for all parties involved instead of a win-lose situation in which one business comes out on top and the other is essentially defeated. A mutually beneficial outcome is more likely to put the dispute to rest than a win-lose outcome that is likely to cause more resentment or hostility. Finding a middle ground may be difficult or impossible, but finding a solution that both parties find acceptable without belittling or demeaning one side is the best possible outcome and in most cases completely attainable.
Finding a resolution to the issue is almost always better than allowing the conflict to end up in the courts, but it is important to know when the court system is the most appropriate venue for a dispute. Sensitive topics such as sexual harassment or other situations in which one or more parties may have broken the law may require the courts to resolve the situation. Sometimes disputes can be settled out of court, and while this is usually preferable, it is not always ethical. Be sure each side is treated with respect and dignity, and that all laws are adhered to throughout the resolution process.
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