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Responsibility in Dispute Resolution

Moral obligation, Conscience, liability, Integrity; all equal, RESPONSIBILITY.
Webster defines responsibility as” being responsible”,  obligation,  obliged to account for duty; cause of something; able to distinguish between right & wrong; dependable, reliable, accountable, answerable, liable, constrained, tied, fettered, bonded, obliged,  other side, trusty, capable, efficient, loyal, faithful (self reliant),  able, competent, qualified, effective, upright,  firm, steadfast, steady , able, respect, action required by one’s position, moral or legal consideration; service.
Great words, but in the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution, the idea of the participants accepting/assuming any responsibility is something that becomes hard if not impossible to accept.  In some cases you can’t give the honor away.  Instead we become irresponsible which means at a drop of a hat we become capricious, erratic, flighty, fickle, thoughtless, rash, undependable, unstable, loose, and lax and with some of us even immoral; wild, shiftless devil make care, and unpredictable.
What would happen if we all decided that no matter what, we would make a concerted effort to examine our own definition of responsibility in our relationships, disputes, disagreements and conflict before we lash out and finger point at others?
In my opinion the absence of our ability to admit that we have some responsibility in almost everything that involves us, can be considered a direct cause of most of our conflict.  Whether the breakdown in communication involves a divorce, contractual disagreements or other family & business relationships; let us stop and examine the part we played in the outcome or results.   What should or could we have done or should have not done and can we be honest enough to admit that we may be guilty of being manipulative, dishonest, power hungry, greedy and  self serving?   All of the things we don’t or won’t readily admit we are.
Would things be different if we were free, open, unpretentious; rather than, grand, self-important, deceitful, full of excuses, evasive, egotistical, arrogant, smug, servile, coy, fraudulent, deceptive, mendacious and provocative?  I maintain if we were able to walk into the situation with the attitude to question, the freedom of openness and the honesty to say “I accept my part “as to why this  situation has developed or progressed to the place we find ourselves when we are party to any dispute.
It is my opinion; all of us must examine what prevents us from accepting the liability that belongs uniquely to each of us.   Otherwise we end up being people described by adjectives we really don’t think we are.
Having said this, in the role of Mediators, how do we encourage dialog between the parties that lends itself to the safety of being able to get each side to inwardly take ownership of and to understand their role and how the acceptance of such would be an intricate step in the process of being open and willing to compromise?

  • COMPROMISE- make concessions, meet in the middle;
  •  CONCILIATE-win over;
  • ARRANGE-prepare a plan;
  •  NEGOTIATE- discuss a matter with the view of reaching an agreement, to bargain, confer, work out, bury the hatchet;
  • Make PEACE- The ultimate goal.

  Great words that describe the kind of people we really believe we are.


Delores Manwar

Delores Manwar is a mediator/arbitrator based in Scottsdale, AZ.  She founded Man war Resolutions, PLLC a professional Alternative Dispute Company in 2008, after mediating in various entities in the community.  She can be reached at 480.330.7339 MORE >

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