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Conflict Resolution Series: We Can’t Agree, What's Next?

Resolving conflict is always preferable on your own. The people closest to the issue at hand have the biggest stake in the outcome and benefit the most from finding a solution to whatever is causing a problem. Using conflict resolution skills like fighting fair, active listening, and offering grace under fire are all positive ways to resolve conflict on your own. What happens when people can’t agree, and they need extra help?

Resolving conflict is as old as time. History shows that courts, mediators, judges, and other appointed men and women have been helping people sort out their feuds throughout the years. Sometimes people are too close to a situation to keep a cool head and resolve their conflict.

These days, there are professionals who can help break down conflict and helping people sort things out. Here are a few examples:

  • Mediators

  • Arbitrators

  • Attorneys

  • Clergy

  • Counselors

Depending on the severity and legality of the issues, one of these professionals may be the right person to help bridge the gaps and resolve the conflict. The key is choosing the correct assistance for the right sort of issues. Let's look at how each of these professionals operate and how they best resolve conflict.


These are neutral, third-party assistants who help people sort out their differences by taking in account both sides of the issue and helping everyone come to a compromise or resolution. Mediators tend to negotiate and use their skills to help the people involved create the solutions that they desire. In some cases, such as court mediators, they may offer opinions or make suggestions about solutions, but mostly they are there to support others as they make their own decisions.


Unlike mediators, whose position it is to support the decisions for resolution made by the parties, an arbitrator is assigned the task of resolving the conflict. Arbitrators use many of the same tools and tactics as mediators, but they offer a solution that both parties agree to abide by ahead of time. Arbitration is often used in corporate contracts and other legal contracts between two parties.


Attorneys resolve conflict on behalf of the person who retained them. Attorneys use laws to compel opposing parties to submit to their interpretation. Using an attorney can be an effective, though expensive, way to resolve conflict when two parties are unable or unwilling to be in close company with one another.


Clergymen and women are often a low-cost and discreet way to resolve conflict. Depending on the nature of the conflict, a clergy member may have insights and principles to offer that help guide a resolution without a lot of fuss. Not all churches aid with conflict resolution, but it may be available if you inquire.


Similarly to mediation, counselors aren’t necessarily going to solve disputes directly, but they can be an effective neutral party in helping sort through the emotions and actions that are part of the conflict. Generally, if you have a relationship with a counselor, they are willing to help families sort through conflict on a limited basis.

If you are unable to resolve the issues before you, it might be a good time to enlist the help of a third party. Seeking assistance from the right person at the right time will shorten the gap between conflict and resolution.

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