Disputes can occur where parties have a difference of opinion.


Depending upon the severity of the dispute, the outcome can be mild or traumatic. People’s lives can change over a dispute and it is important to be clear about what you are willing to accept as the outcome of such an event.

The result could be a agreement, or a simple perpetuation of a difference of opinion; or it could be a complete separation of the parties for the rest of their lives. It is important to realise that disputes typically involve emotions and that this human trait does not always follow logic. Disputes need to stay in the realms of logic as emotions do not always follow fact.

A rule of thumb is that if you are making a decision on facts, based upon feelings, then it’s a good idea to review the actual facts first. Feelings have a habit of creating facts that are bias towards supporting the feeling and not the actual truth.

When two parties use feelings to try and address a dispute, separation of the parties is a common outcome as well as the actual dispute not being resolved.

TECHNIQUE 1:Leave emotions out of it

Facts play an important role in a dispute as they are the basis for the resolution. However facts need to be put into context.

For example: “You slammed the door” is a truth, however putting it into context and the truth becomes less emotive:

Example 1: The wind caught the door

Example 2: Sorry I didn’t mean to slam it

Example 3: I was annoyed and I reacted with frustration. Sorry

TECHNIQUE 2: Eliminate unimportant components

In the above example, the door slam was significant as it set the scene. Instead of a calm negotiation things actually touched on violence.

When you know that you have used an action to ‘force’ a feeling, stop and apologise. Keep the dispute to the facts and eliminate unimportant components with a genuine apology.

Many disputes occur due to loops where a response to a factual declaration has an unsupported reply that runs around in circles.

TECHNIQUE 3: Avoid Loops

Party 1 > Supported Fact: “You received $20,000 but I only received $10,000”

Party 2 > In context: “Yes but I did twice as much work as you did.”

Party 1 > Unsupported Thought: “No you didn’t”

Party 2 > Loop “Yes I did”

In this case there is little point of continuing the “he said, she said process”. It is far better to write down the difference of opinion and to move on to a different point.

Work through the entire dispute content and when all details have been heard, the parties can go away and research the loops until a satisfactory validation of thoughts have been compiled and presented to the opposition for their consideration. Facts are the key and supported facts assist to resolve disputes.

At the end of the day, a dispute has a settlement. What is it that the parties will actually settle on?

TECHNIQUE 4: What is the settlement?

  1. Create a simple list.
  2. Keep the details factual
  3. Eliminate emotionally motivated statements
  4. If adding support documentation, tables, or images; put them at the back as references:


See Appendix 1: Photos of the damage

See Appendix B: Table of expenditure

See Appendix: Valuation from agent

        5. Where there is a difference of opinion that cannot be resolved, resolve the items you can and create a short list of things to resolve.


Use the four techniques to help you resolve a dispute. If you cannot achieve a satisfactory outcome, maintain the techniques but consider mediation. With the basis of your dispute using facts and not emotions, the dispute resolution will progress well. Remember, always avoid the emotions and avoid statements that may upset the other party. Keep it to the facts.