Types of Conflict

Conflict occurs when people disagree in all areas of life. When looking for a professional to help prevent or resolve a conflict, qualifications to consider include experience and training in the type of conflict.

Community & Cross Culture

Disputes between groups have unique dynamics. A practitioner working with these conflicts should be skilled in working with multiple parties, sensitive to the issues of the groups involved.

The residents of a residential neighborhood are concerned when a paving company moves in down the block. The neighborhood believes the constant traffic of the loud, smelly trucks and the use of dangerous compounds threatens the quality of life and property values of their neighborhood.


Conflicts in families are especially delicate. A skilled practitioner helps guide the parties through the issues to reach a new understanding and better communication.

John & Susan are divorcing. They need help deciding on parenting time, Child Support and the distribution of marital assests.

Dave wants more parenting time with his daughter Lexi, but Lexi’s mother wants to keep things status quo.

Helen is at the end of her rope with her teenage daughter. They don’t communicate, except to argue.

Adult Family/Elder

(adult siblings; parent(s) and adult children; estate planning)

With aging may come a new set of problems and decisions.

Often, adult children become involved in the decision making for their elder parents. The professional working in these situations must make sure the interests and Independence of the elder are a priority even if the elder cannot represent them herself.

Martha will need support when she is discharged from the hospital. Her daughter wants Martha to stay with her but her son insists she return home with assistance from home services.


(schools; other educational settings, peer mediation)

Conflicts in educational settings may occur among staff, among students or between students and staff. Parents may be involved in the original disagreement or may be involved in matters affecting their children. Conflict resolution professionals in educational settings may be educators who provide training to staff or educational programs for students, and may organize peer mediation programs to teach students to act as conflict resolvers with their peers.

Mr. and Mrs. Edmonds are concerned about their son’s safety on the school bus. They have raised their concerns with the transportation company and with the office of the superintendent of schools but are not satisfied. They are preparing to bring this matter to the school board. An outside mediator is brought in to bring all parties to the table to try and find a workable solution that will resolve this dispute.

The teachers in the social studies department of a local high school are involved in revising their school’s curriculum to meet new standards. A series of verbal exchanges culminated in an outburst at a faculty meeting. The school administrator brought in a mediator to help the teachers identify the communication and procedural differences that seem to be contributing to the interpersonal issues in their department and find ways to restore their cooperative working relationships.

Environment & Public Policy

Public Policy issues may include anything from land use and environmental issues to people-focused issues or financial management concerns. These issues often bring together community stakeholders with different priorities and points of view.

Box Store is planning a new development project.  The current project plans will likely impact the integrity of a 100-year floodplain.  Community members and Town officials are extremely concerned given flooding issues resulting from more frequent “unusual storm events”.


Conflicts within an organization weaken the organization and reduce productivity. A skilled Conflict resolver can help members of an organization focus on their common mission and address the obstacles in reaching goals.

Dr. Smith is spending too much time dealing with ongoing friction between his office staff which is compromising the “vibe” of the practice and cutting into the time he spends with patients.

Some of the board members of Woodbrook Preschool were struggling with the board’s new President. The prior President had been terminated and not everyone on the board was ready to accept new ideas and the changes in direction to bring the organization back on track.


When the customer or a business in a transaction is dissatisfied, an ADR professional can assist parties to deconstruct the issues to identify the core of the dispute and strategy a solution both sides can live with.

Homeowners are unhappy with the contractor’s work on their addition.

The car dealer is looking to recover the funds from the buyer’s bounced check.


(farms, farmers & agricultural suppliers)

Jay & Syana own a Christmas tree farm along the upper river valley.  They invested in nursery trees 10 years ago that are maturing and will be cut this holiday season with anticipated profits of over $50,000.00. In the meantime, they are behind in their USDA Farm Service Agency Loan payments. They request mediation to see what the options might be until after the holiday season income can be realized.

Restorative Justice

Restorative process emphasizes repairing harms and reweaving the fabric of community. When victims, offenders and community work together, the results can be transformational for everyone involved.

A 16 year old vandalizes a neighbor’s garage, and later feels shame and remorse.  The neighbor is outraged and is also concerned about the young person’s future.  Both want a just outcome and the possibility for a respectful future relationship.


(cases in court that do not include criminal matters)

When disputes reach the court system, an experienced mediator can assist parties in finding creative solutions that work within a legal framework.  Mediators work with parties with and without counsel at all court departments and levels, from small claims, landlord/tenant and district court, to superior court, probate court, family court and the United States District Court.

A credit card company sues a cardholder for amounts due.

A family member has died without a will or the will isn’t clear about who gets what.

Owners of two pieces of property can’t agree on where the property line is.

Governmental Agencies

When people disagree with the decision of a governmental agency, like the EEOC or Social Security or the Insurance Department, an ADR professional can assist the parties in understanding possible solutions.

An employee has been fired and brought a claim at the Human Rights Commission because she believes the decision was discriminatory.

An insurance company delayed months paying a homeowner’s claim for fire damage and the homeowner filed a complaint with the Insurance Department.