Why Use a Third Party?

You may want to consider using third party help to break a deadlock if:

  1. Emotions are running high with a lot of frustration and anger.
  2. Communication has broken down or the participants are talking “pas” each other.
  3. Behavior at the negotiation table is negative.
  4. The parties cannot even agree on what it is that needs to be discussed.
  5. The parties cannot agree on an agenda, what is needed or required.
  6. Both sides view their differences as irreconcilable.
  7. The parties have different beliefs as to what is right or fair.
  8. There is an impasse beyond which there is no forward path upon which the parties can agree.

There are definite advantages to calling in a third party:

  1. People can “cool off.” Once cooled, they may be able to describe their differences to the third party.
  2. The third party can help the parties communicate, be clear, and listen
  3. The parties can use the time to mend the relationship.
  4. The third party can help them prioritize what is important.
  5. A schedule for resolving the conflict can be agreed upon and followed.
  6. The costs of a spiraling out of control dispute can be mitigated.
  7. The third party can be a model for the parties to emulate going forward so as to avoid further third party expenses.
  8. A solution might be reached.

But, there can be disadvantages also:

  1. The parties may lose face and view calling in a third party as an admission of their own failings.
  2. There is a loss of control.
  3. There may be reluctance to accept less than 100% of their preferred outcome.

Still, getting a third party mediator in to assist is better than arbitration or litigation. More on that next month.


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