When you find yourself at odds with someone, what do you do?  Do you get mad or sad?  Do you fight or flee?   These are all normal emotional responses, but what you really need to do in the face of conflict is calm down and let the rational part of your brain kick in.  This is very hard to do when you are in the middle of an unpleasant situation, but try to think of it this way: when the milk gets spilled are you just going to sit there and cry, or go get a mop?  Hopefully, you will opt for the mop, and as you walk over to grab it, here are some points to consider:

1. What is my best case scenario?  And what steps do I need to take to get that outcome?

2. What is my worst case scenario?  And how sure am I that this won’t happen?

3. What are the transaction costs involved?  Make sure to take into account how much it will cost in terms of time and money to pursue a battle to the bitter end.

4. What are all the possible solutions that can mitigate everyone’s damages?  It is important to take into account here others that may not be part of the direct conflict but that could be impacted by the on-going tension/failure to reach a solution.

Over the last 20 years in the legal field, these are the 4 steps I have used to guide people through settlement discussions in an attempt to avoid a trial, because the sad truth is that court is very expensive, not at all a speedy process, and it can often be unpredictable.

It’s taken me a long time to accept that conflict is a normal part of life, and that we don’t always get it right inside a courtroom.  But thankfully it rarely gets to that point– 9 out of 10 times we are able to talk through concerns, listen carefully to what others have to say, and find a way to meet each other halfway and thus avoid a bloodbath.

This is not just a way to resolve cases, it’s actually a great way to navigate life.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.