The foundation of several other dispute resolution processes is

interest based negotiation. These processes seek to develop a true

understanding among the parties of each one's interests and goals.


Example:        Three Approaches to Resolving the Orange Dispute

Facts:  John has a huge orange tree in his side yard. The branches extend over a fence to Adamís yard. Adam saw an orange drop from Johnís tree. The orange rolled under Adam's fence and on to a public sidewalk where Mary picked it up. Adam said that John abandoned the orange and trespassed when he allowed the tree to grow over the fence. Mary agreed that John had abandoned the orange, but she also claimed that Adam had never really had the orange in his possession, and therefore he had no right to it. John and Adam both said that Mary illegally assumed possession of the orange and that she must relinquish it to one of them.


    Litigation is the path most commonly taken to dispute resolution. Litigation relies on the law, which is arbitrary, and third party judges and juries to decide the outcome of disputes. This approach to resolution is adversarial which means the parties assume positions, often without having all of the facts or reasons for the other parties' behaviors, then the parties do all they can to defend and support their positions.

    Which dispute resolution process is the best one for settling disputes? The answer to that question depends upon the parties and the nature of the dispute. Discovering the right process may be compared to trying to reach a light in the forest. Paths to the light are not the same. Some paths are longer and harder to navigate than others and each has its own rewards and consequences.


Litigation:     The law determines who has a legal right to the orange,

                      and that person gets it.

                      Result: Winner takes all.

Positional      The parties may decided to compromise and each take

Bargaining:   one third of what they really want which is better than


                       Result: Three sort of happy people.

Interested Based

Negotiation:             John, Adam and Mary cannot agree on who

                                  should get the orange, but since they live in

                                  the same neighborhood, they are concerned

                                  about their future relationship. With this in

                                  in mind, they choose interest based


Interests and Goals: In the first step of the process, each party
                                   states what he or she wants and why:

                    John:    I like oranges, I want it to eat.
                   Adam:   I want the seeds, so I can grow my own tree.
                    Mary:   I need the rind to make marmalade.

Result:   By each party expressing his or her interests and goals

                and listening to the interests and goals of the others--


(It's not always this easy, but you get the idea.)