Resolving Neighborhood Conflict

By: Laurie Whitehead, ljwhitehead@mindspring.com.

Let's face it, from time to time, we have issues within our community. How we deal with these conflicts is extremely important. Quickly addressing issues head-on in a non-confrontational manner can often diffuse situations before they escalate. Listen carefully to what your neighbor has to say even if you are eager to explain your side of the story.  Be willing to compromise. Remember... a compromise means you walk away with at least half of what you were fighting for in the first place. Break down the problem, not the neighbor. When emotions get involved and people get upset, the dispute becomes a personal attack with the issue at hand sometimes does not even end up being discussed.

If the above approach seems uncomfortable another course of action is through professional mediation. The mediator creates a positive tone, educates parties on mediation process and listens to both sides objectively. If both sides feel as if they are being listened to a mutual understanding and resolution can frequently be reached. The communication facilitated by the mediator during mediation sessions allows each person to be heard and understood. Each person gains a better understanding of the other party's perspective and of the situation. It allows each person to express their needs and wants and then allows a mutually acceptable and sometimes quite creative outcome to be reached. It also allows the parties to restore communication and builds trust.

*Laurie Whitehead is a registered mediator with the State of Georgia and does mediation consulting and cases with the Justice Center of Atlanta. Contact her for more information:(678) 462-9954, ljwhitehead@mindspring.com.

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