Keeping Peace with Your Neighbors

Resolving Disputes - Keeping peace with neighbors, friends and people in between
By Steve Feistel, PCAM®

Your role as a participant...

Disputes arise in all aspects of life, but when they involve your home and matters of lifestyle, they can have a dramatic impact. Resolving disputes is no easy matter. However, if a dispute does arise, Accell suggests the following Dispute Resolution Process to keep the peace.

R • E • S • O • L • V • E

Remain objective: To effectively facilitate the resolution of disputes it is important that participants maintain an open mind with a genuine concern for resolving the issues in the best interest of all involved. If the perception is that either party has adopted an unchanging position the objective of negotiations will be compromised. Naturally, it is understood that differences do exist, otherwise there would not be a dispute to resolve. However, the process of dispute resolution needs to involve some middle ground on behalf of the participants. Without which, reasonable reconciliation of the issues will not be reached, which should be the ultimate goal of the participants.

Employ courteous and civil behavior during discussions: Disputes regarding home ownership issues can become very emotional. Often what is at stake are very precious commodities in the form of pride, lifestyle and perceptions of home ownership rights. These strong feelings can lead to shouting matches if basic courtesies and parliamentary rules are not followed. For this reason it is crucial that all parties involved in discussions clearly understand the parliamentary procedures employed during the resolution process. These include the following common courtesies and practices:

  • Only one person to speak at a time.
  • Do not interrupt others. Show each participant the same courtesy you would want extended to you.
  • Respect the responsibility and authority of the person chairing the discussion.
  • Be prepared to speak. Comments should be to the point and relate to the issues under discussion.
  • Do not shout.
  • Do not use profanity or other inflammatory language.
  • Always be polite. You may use words such as thank you, please and you’re welcome.


Specify what's wrong: The first step in solving a problem is to define the problem. Before effective solutions can be reached, a clear definition of the problem needs to be developed and agreed upon. From this point progress towards resolution begins. Participants need to clearly state their positions and feelings regarding the issues.

Open and facilitate communications with all parties concerned: Most homeowners have a lot in common. However, when disputes arise, this common ground is often abandoned because of personality conflicts and inflated egos. Charging ahead without taking a careful survey of the terrain can lead to devastating outcomes for all parties involved. When homeowner disputes arise, all parties need to look to the common ground for mutually beneficial resolutions.

Mutual resolution starts with understanding and trust. Participants need to get to know each other and make a commitment to resolving the dispute. Objectives and perspectives need to be openly discussed. Emphasis needs to be placed on common goals and finding solutions.

Not all disputes can be easily resolved, but mutual resolution will result in many more disputes resolved earlier, more fairly, more efficiently, at less cost and with less animosity.

Listen to all positions and options: Listening is the number one duty of all participants. Often a combatant's opportunity to be heard by an objective and interested party is adequate compensation for accepting compromise and recognizing common ground.

Volunteer solutions: Disagreements are a natural part of negotiations. When they occur, alternatives need to be explored. As an interested participant, you can be a valuable source of alternative solutions to resolve differences. Sometimes a little unbiased insight can lead to amenable solutions to impassable barriers.

End with a clear decision and action: The resolution process should lead to a clear and decisive ending. After all parties have been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard and participate in the resolution process, reasonable people should be able to reach a conclusion. Decisions should be free from ambiguity and clearly state the action or actions to be taken by all involved parties. If necessary, some follow-up action may be appropriate to verify that the intended results of the decision have been reached.

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