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Happy Conflict Resolution Day

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Lisa Beutler
October 17, 2014

What is the number one dispute you need to work on today?

For many, the hardest part of this question might be figuring out which of several conflicts to pick. While conflict can sometimes be healthy, the way it’s managed often results in a loss of productivity and unnecessary stress.

Recognizing there is often a better way to address disputes, the third Thursday of October (Oct. 16, 2014) is set aside as Conflict Resolution Day. Initially conceived in 2005 by the Association for Conflict Resolution, the day is now promoted jointly by the American Bar Association during its Mediation Week and has become an international celebration. This year it is also being recognized in cooperation with the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Campaign to End Bullying. In addition to discussions on bullying, topics such as divorce, domestic violence, mediation, arbitration, and more will be highlighted at activities during Conflict Resolution Day.

Conflict resolution methods are now used in schools, families, businesses, communities, governments and the legal system. These tools provide productive ways to achieve resolution of public and private as well as legal disputes.

Many people in the throes of a dispute are unaware that mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict are available. Take a second look at the dispute you are working on.

If you think there could be a better way to address it, many resources are available. Online resources include websites of the professional associations already mentioned. For those that work in the federal government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a roster of professional mediators as does the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

At the state and local level, a number of state and private colleges and universities provide these types of services. Many communities have nonprofit neighborhood mediation services. A variety of private sector professional facilitation and mediation services are also available through contract. Websites such as mediate.com also provide more information about services.

If you are looking for someone to help with your dispute, the people that do conflict resolution work go by many names: facilitator, mediator and collaboration professional are a few examples. In some cases, the people that do this work are also attorneys or therapists with additional training. It is common for practitioners to specialize in certain types of disputes; the more complex or contentious a dispute this specialization maybe helpful. Since there is no license to be a conflict resolution professional, it is helpful to understand a practitioner’s background when seeking assistance.

For self-help, a number of good books on conflict resolution are available. The classic text on interest-based negotiation is Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury.

Conflict Resolution Day recognizes the significant contributions of (peaceful) conflict resolvers and achieves synergy by celebrating across the world on the same day. If you know someone that does this work – give them a thumbs-up.

And if you still have that dispute on your desk – today might be the day to think about it differently.

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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