As we near the end of our examination on how to constructively manage conflict in HOAs, let us take a moment to review the first three tips we have covered:
Tip #1: Be Real About What Is Bothering You
Tip #2: Listen, Listen, Listen!
Tip #3: Folks in a Conflict Must Strive to Use Neutral Language and Tone
These first three tips will be most effective if every individual engaged in the conflict is willing and committed to looking at their personal agenda, taking a moment to really listen to where the other person is coming from and to act like an adult in their interactions.
While utilizing these interpersonal skills should go a long way to resolving conflict, it may not be enough. As a result, the folks involved in the conflict should seriously consider the next tip:
Tip #4: Utilize Mediation to Facilitate Resolution of the Dispute
Utilizing an independent third party with no skin in the game to facilitate an acceptable resolution to a dispute is the goal of mediation. In many cases, getting a mediator involved in the dispute will help the folks get to the heart of the conflict and assist them in working out a reasonable resolution.
The Mediation Association of Colorado, describes mediation as:
“ . . . a process that brings parties together to resolve their differences through discussion and problem-solving. The goal is to achieve "win-win" solutions. The mediator is a neutral third party who helps facilitate the dialogue but is not the final decision-maker, arbitrator, or judge. Mediation can resolve disputes quickly and satisfactorily without the expense, delay and anxiety of litigation.
By offering a safe environment for parties to express their needs and interests, discuss options and reach a mutually agreeable resolution, mediation can preserve important relationships. Mediators assure the fairness of the process, facilitate communication, and maintain the balance of power between the parties.
Mediation sessions are confidential and voluntary for all parties. The process typically involves one or more meetings between the disputing parties and the mediator. It may also include one or more confidential sessions between individual parties and the mediator (a “caucus”). Either party may withdraw at any time. Generally, a signed agreement is binding; in some cases, court approval may be necessary.”
While the parties involved in a dispute can include their legal counsel in mediation, it is not appropriate for legal counsel for the HOA to act as the individual to mediate a dispute. Obviously, the HOA’s legal counsel is not an independent third party.
While voluntary mediation of HOA disputes is not mandatory under Colorado law, if the parties are open and willing to working with a mediator, this can be a great option to utilize in resolving disputes and creating a positive working relationship well into the future.
Stay tuned for our final thoughts on constructively manage conflict in HOAs!