What’s the Difference Between a Negotiation, Arbitration, and Mediation?


Negotiation. Involves two or more parties who are engaged in direct discussions with each other in a concerted effort of reaching an agreement. Both parties use persuasion and influence to get the other party to see things their way.


 A buyer and a salesman are negotiating a price for a car.

 A wife is negotiating with her husband over use of finances.

 A president is negotiating with another country’s leader to remove missile silos that threaten the security of the nation.

Arbitration. This is a form of resolving conflict that is handled outside of court where both parties come before a neutral third-party. The neutral third-party is usually a lawyer and the arbitrator listens to both sides and then passes judgment on a winner and a loser in much the same way as a judge does.


 Two employees are having issues with each other. They take these issues to the boss. The boss hears both sides and then decides to fire one of the employees.

 Two siblings are having a fight and the mother gets involved. The mother hears what they have to say, and of course both siblings are pointing fingers at the other side. The mother decides to ground them both.

Mediation. Similar to negotiation, but mediation involves the use of a neutral third-party who assists the negotiating parties in reaching an agreement. Mediation is used typically when direct negotiations have failed because the mediator can separate the people from the problem much easier than the stakeholders can.


 A buyer purchases a used car from a seller. The car breaks down soon after. The buyer demands his money back. The seller accuses the buyer of damaging the car himself. Instead of dealing with the matter in court, which can be both costly and time-consuming for both parties, they instead agree to hire a mediator and work out their situation out of court.

 A couple decide to get a divorce, but argue over who gets what. Instead of waging legal war against each other, they decide to work out their agreement with a divorce mediator. The mediator uncovers what the needs and interests are for both the husband and wife as well as separating the emotions from the problems at hand.

 Two nations, on the verge of war after failed negotiations, agree to peace-talks. Neither side trusts the other side, so they ask for the help of a neutral representative to act as mediator for their talks. Through the mediator, both stake-holding countries are able to work out an agreement and avoid war.

© Copyright 2006 by Tristan Loo. All rights reserved.


Source by Tristan Loo

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