- 1.7

Involving unwilling parties

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Convincing parties to take part in the process.

Solutions summary

Facilitators say that all parties involved in a dispute are needed to reach a fair solution. When parties do not want to cooperate to find an outcome the facilitator can do several things to make them change their minds:
  • Show them it is safe to cooperate
  • Show that cooperating is more attractive than non-cooperation. Be careful not to be too one-sided
  • Make personal contact and explain facilitator's role (Tool 1b):
    • Emphasise you are neutral and impartial
    • Make clear that you are not on the side of particular party but on the side of justice. 
  • Ask for their perspective on the story. Make sure they feel heard
  • Emphasise that information shared remains confidential
  • Emphasise that your aim is a fair outcome that takes their needs, worries and fears into account
  • Explain how you will keep looking for a fair solution if they do not cooperate:
    • Maybe you will ask advice of a lawyer
    • Perhaps you will open a court procedure
  • Explain the benefits of cooperating:
    • Avoiding going to court
    • Affordable solution
    • Maintaining reputation
    • Control over the outcome
    • Doing the right thing
  • Write a letter to show  that you serious and confident
  • Involve others (Tool 18) that can help to get the party cooperating
  • Make non-constructive behavior public

Local solution: Conference Comments

Votes at Conference: 14

  • Publicity of service can avoid the problem.
  • Different problems need different strategies
    • be a jelly fish
  • Social issues and norms can make parties reluctant to attend.
  • Beware of a tendency to support the “weaker” party. You must remain neutral.
  • Calculation of cost to not take part, money, time (mediation can be long) , reputation. These can all convince people to take part.
  • Use a formal approach, but include an amicable solution section.
  • Enphasise that it is allowed to have both confidential and shared information.
  • Get clues or ideas of how to engage them from party that approaches.
  • Use social norms to positively influence parties..
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Local solution: inviting an unwilling party

I'll call or contact in a personal way the other party and try to interest him to show that the dispute can be resolved quickly if he cooperates. With cooperation from the party he or she can influence the outcome of the dispute, if not, I will submit to the court and he or she has no influence on the outcome. And perhaps the dispute is still unresolved

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Added by: DAS

Local solution: convincing party to participate

To get the parties to participate voluntarily is the most crucial factor in getting to a successful resolution. Thus, mediators must try their best to convince parties who are unwilling to co-operate to see their interests in attending a mediation process. Below are some arguments that can be used to convince an unwilling party to co-operate:

  • The party does not need to spend as long finding a solution through mediation, compared to courts.
  • Mediations are faster.
  • The parties do not need to spend money to resolve the conflict.
  • Mediations are much cheaper, or free, to parties, and so cost the parties much less than court or other processes.
  • After the process, the parties can maintain a relationship.
  • Because mediation is about finding a solution that both parties find acceptable, relationships are not damaged through mediation, and the relationship between the two parties can continue after the process.
  • The mediator is independent.
  • The mediator will not serve the interests of either party particularly, but will remain neutral, so the solution is the decision made by the parties.
  • Fewer costs.
  • Compared to other procedures (such as court systems), parties do not need to spend money on lawyers, pay for taxes or other services.
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Added by: ADHOC

Evidence from practice

Highlight Benefits of Mediation: In Egypt, Mali, Rwanda and Indonesia we found that facilitators/mediators demonstrated the benefit of a mediation process, with lower costs, a quicker response and more sustainable relationships compared to formal systems.

Use the formal system for pressure: In Bangladesh and in Mali the formal system is used as pressure to convince parties to take part. It is embarrassing for a party if a conflict has to be solved through courts. Thus the threat of the formal system can be enough to encourage parties to take part in a mediation.

Highlight Costs/Risks of Formal Systems: In these same countries mediators advise parties who are unwilling to take part in a mediation of the risks and costs which are associated with a formal system, including financial costs, time involved, and the uncertainty of ‘winning’ the case. This is also an approach highlighted as effective by a workshop held by Praxis in Azerbaijan.

Highlight role & Independence: In Indonesia, Azerbaijan and Cambodia, mediators highlight both the fact that they are independent (not working ‘for’ either party), are volunteers (so not affected by power differences) and that they simply want to find a solution that both parties can agree to.

Repeat the invitation: Facilitators in Cambodia and Egypt will revisit parties several times before they accept that the invitation is declined.

Smart use of social pressure: In Cambodia facilitators sometimes approach a third party who can influence the unwilling person

Individual approaches: Lawyers from Praxis often approach the other party as individuals, reducing the formality and threat of taking part. This gives them an opportunity to explain the purpose of the process and their role, so that there is less perceived threat from the process.

Evidence from handbooks

  • What can CDRC members do to increase chances that both parties show up?

Encourage them by explaining that it is in their long-term interest to mediate. That if it is in the husband’s interest to work things out with his wife in order to avoid a divorce, this is his opportunity to do so, or if there is a mutual decision to divorce, this can be discussed before heading to court.

Operations Manual for Commune Dispute Resolution Committee, UNDP Cambodia 2008, p. 30

Evidence from literature

  • Fear (of negative outcomes) can be a useful motivation to change attitudes

Perloff, R. M. (2010) Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century, Communication Series. Communication Theory and Methodology; 4th Ed, New York Taylor & Francis Routledge

  • Two sided messages, showing pro's and con's, influence attitudes more than one-sided messages, provided the message overcomes opposition arguments

Allen, M. (1998) Comparing the effectiveness of one and two sided messages. In M. Allen, & R. W. Preiss (Eds), Persuasion: Advances through metaanalysis, pp.87-98. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press

O’Keefe, D. J. (1999) How to handle opposing arguments in persuasive messages: A metaanalytic review of the effects of one-sided and two-sided messages. In M. E. Roloff (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 22, pp209-249

Involving unwilling parties

by admin on March 4, 2011

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