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     About Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)      

ADR stands for "Alternative Dispute Resolution", which refers to a variety of ways to resolve disputes other than through litigation or formal grievances. Conflicts occurring between people or companies are far more likely to successfully resolve their disputes through some form of ADR.

The AAMS website already deals a lot with arbitration and mediation, two of the better known ADR methods. However there are other options available in the ADR spectrum. They include negotiation, conflict coaching, consensus decision making and restorative practices. 

All ADR processes give disputing parties control over the processes leads to the resolution of their dispute. This increases the likelihood of success. When parties agree on a settlement, it generally means the solution will be more durable and sustainable since there is a mutual buy-in - hence the desire to make it work.

Some of the ADR processes go beyond just helping resolve disputes and are actually used in dispute prevention. Teaching people ways to manage conflict can prevent many serious disputes. There are many conflict management tools that can be learned in order to deal with difficult situations and prevent them from escalating. There are also many qualified and experienced conflict management and conflict communications instructors throughout Alberta who are ready and willing to offer such expertise.


Negotiation is actually any process where there is discussion to resolve a disagreement or conflict. Discussions may be quite informal or may involve attorneys or advocates who talk on behalf of each party. The problem is that most people don't really know how to negotiate; and their attempts often become arguments. Negotiation is a highly advanced skill. Therefore each party may take negotiation training or hire a negotiator (other than their own legal counsel) to represent them in the negotiation.   

There are many styles of negotiation and many negotiation tools that are readily available. While many negotiations are between two people or two organizations, there are also many "multi-party" negotiations involving three or more parties. These can become complicated as people begin to confuse the needs and wants of the different parties, as well as the negotiating style of each individual. Often a facilitator is used to keep discussions orderly and to track the changing positions of the parties.


Facilitation, in simple terms, is the process of designing and conducting a productive meeting, usually with the help of a trained and impartial facilitator. Facilitation is a process tool that addresses the requirements of any group that is meeting for a common goal, whether it be arriving at a decision, planning an event, resolving a problem, or simply brainstorming a for a project so that ideas and information can be exchanged.

Facilitators do not "lead" the groups they facilitate, nor do they take sides or encourage one idea over another. Rather, a facilitator participates in guiding a group toward arriving at a consensus.

Setting parameters and agreeing on some ground rules are key to the facilitation process. This is especially important in meetings over difficult or contentious issues, or where some of the parties may be overly vocal - or even belligerent. A good facilitator ensures all meeting participants understand the rules and parameters of the meeting and then responsibly and fairly enforces those rules of engagement so that all parties have meaningful input.

Conflict Coaching

Conflict Coaching is an individualized process designed specifically to help clients effectively engage in conflict. The goal of conflict coaching is to prevent unnecessary disputes and to help clients resolve issues that do arise in a positive manner by increasing their conflict resolving capabilities.
People deal with conflict in many ways, ranging from avoidance to winning at the expense of others. Conflict coaches help clients determine the best approach to deal with conflict in any number of situations, and with any number of others who have different ways of managing conflict. They also deal with behaviors that get in the way of a collaborative resolution. Conflict coaches assist clients in setting goals and action plans for managing conflict more effectively. Coaches might teach clients ways of speaking to maximize productive conversations or help them develop interaction skills and strategies.

Restorative Practices 

Restorative Practices create a safe and structured environment for meetings between offenders, victims and both partiesí family, friends or colleagues. Here they deal with the consequences of the crime or wrongdoing and together determine how to best repair the damage. Restorative Practices are not counseling or mediation. They are victim-sensitive, straightforward processes that help put right what has been made wrong, and address harm in a way that honors the worth of everyone.

Consensus Decision Making

In consensus decision making (CDM) people with diverse interests agree to work together to find solutions to challenging problems. Fundamental to this process is that all parties agree to work collaboratively to find solutions in the best interests of all. An implicit benefit of the consensus process is that mutual understanding and respect develop as people jointly search for the best solutions. Participants work together, getting tough on the problem rather than getting tough with each other. They rely on the collective experience and knowledge of the group. The results are high quality decisions that last longer than decisions made by one party and are more easily implemented because all participating stakeholders agree with them.A CDM process ensures that power is balanced and that the will of the majority is not imposed on the minority, and that a radical minority does not dominate. Participants examine their own interests, share them with the others, and are open to all possible options that could meet those interests.

What is a Mediator?



The mediator may be the neutral person contacting the other party or parties to arrange for an introductory meeting.


The mediator instructs the parties about the mediation process, issues that can be addressed, options and principles that may be considered and how to get the most out of mediation.


The mediator ensures that all parties are fully heard and have had every opportunity to explain their side of the issue.


The mediator will sometimes assist in the discussions by rephrasing or reframing communications so that they are better understood and received.

Questioner and Clarifier

The mediator will ask probing questions and clarify statements so that all the participants have a full and accurate understanding. 


The mediator is also there to ensure that lively and sometimes intense discussions donít become arguments. Mediators are trained to de-escalate conflict.


The mediator suggests various procedures for making progress or furthering discussions. If negotiations are getting bogged down or becoming unproductive, the mediator may quickly choose another process which may include options such as caucus meetings, consultations with substantive experts or restorative practices.

Angel of Realities

The mediator may exercise his or her discretion to play devil's advocate with one or both parties as to the practicality of solutions they are considering or the extent to which certain options are consistent with participants' stated goals, interests and positive intentions.


The mediator will often stimulate the conversation by offering new perspectives and presenting alternative reference points for consideration to help parties reach an agreement.


The mediator documents all important data and necessary information, writes up the parties' agreement, and may mp out a process to help the parties implement their agreement.



Resolution Alley
What is Mediation?
Community Projects
What is Arbitration?


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