Identify options and agree on a way forward

This is the most important and often the most difficult part of the process. The following steps may be helpful
in reaching agreement:
› create an atmosphere where all parties are able to speak openly and honestly and where they can
make concessions without losing face
› acknowledge emotional issues as these are often at the heart of it and thus will need to be resolved. However, don’t allow them to take over
› consider carefully the extent to which you need to control the meeting and intervene in the discussion
› explore the reasons for the disagreement
› identify any misconceptions or misunderstandings which are blocking progress
› encourage the parties to examine their own positions and identify any common ground with others
› look for points which may be negotiable and seek win/win solutions which take the interests of all parties into account
› ask the parties to put forward preferred solutions
› allow time for reflection
› assess each option and help the parties to agree on which represents the best way forward
› secure the commitment of all parties to any agreement and agree a review point.

If no progress is made, a period of reflection may help, but ultimately it may be necessary to bring in another manager or to consider external assistance from a specialist in mediation, ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) or arbitration. In these difficult cases, where complete consensus is impossible, you should aim for a way forward that is acceptable to all, even if it is not the preferred option for all parties involved.

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