Mediation & Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution Services Including Mediation Services

Negotiation Advice International (NAI) provides our clients with both in-person and online dispute resolution services through secure video and telephone communications. Our offerings are focused on mediation services and facilitation services but also include arbitration and “med-arb” services.

“Their ability to promote dialogue and to find solutions to complicated challenges is impressive. In my view, NAI's work serves the national interest. Their involvement leads to long-standing and enduring results.”
—Jules B. Bloch
LLB, Professional Mediator & MLB Arbitrator
Peter Johnston is “a leading light in his field.”
—Roger Fisher
Harvard Law School Professor and Bestselling Author of Getting to Yes
Peter Johnston is “an exceptional negotiator” with “enormous patience and perseverance,” and “inspires trust.”
—Harry Barnes
Former Director, Jimmy Carter’s Conflict Resolution Center

NAI’s Pioneering Dispute Resolution Services

Negotiation Keynote Speaker

All of NAI’s dispute resolution services draw on the expertise and ground-breaking contributions to the modern negotiation and conflict management fields of our firm’s founder, Peter D. Johnston, in addition to research and case studies at Harvard University, to which Peter has contributed.

Peter’s award-winning book, Negotiating with Giants, relays lessons from our firm’s experience, research, and some of history’s most difficult negotiations and conflicts, including trade deals, hostage-takings, business contract negotiations, and union contract negotiations. His results have been formally recognized by the United States Government for their positive economic and social impact, both domestically and abroad.

As one of the world’s foremost negotiation experts, Peter has worked with clients ranging from the United Nations, World Bank, and Heads of State to corporations such as HSBC, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, and Suez, as well as unions, including the pilots at American Airlines.

What’s the Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration?

Mediation is a process whereby one of our mediators guides participants through a structured process to try and cooperatively reach an agreement. At the end of the process, each participant decides whether or not to agree to a suggested resolution. If either party declines, the parties have no resolution.

NAI also offers facilitation services resembling a structured conversation among those affected, as well as more formal arbitration services where one of our adjudicators, with a mandate from all participants, will render a binding decision. Finally, mediation-arbitration (often abbreviated to “med-arb”) is yet another means of dispute resolution offered by our firm: as parties to such a process, you consent to mediation, but if no agreement is reached, you also consent to our arbitrator having the right to render a binding decision based on what they believe is most appropriate to the situation at hand.

So, in brief, what is the difference between mediation and arbitration? Mediation is a voluntary effort to reach an agreement with support from a mediator; arbitration involves a binding decision by an arbitrator; facilitation is a more informal approach to mediation; and med-arb allows for a hybrid approach that tries mediation first, with arbitration as a backup. Prior to moving forward, all parties involved in a conflict must agree to whatever means is to be used to try and settle their dispute. If mutually agreed, even arbitration on an exceptional basis does not necessarily have to be binding.

Negotiation Keynote Speaker

Our Approach to Alternative Dispute Resolution

Negotiation Keynote Speaker

Our NAI negotiation team has decades of experience working in a neutral capacity with all parties to a conflict, from formally or informally facilitating difficult negotiations among nations immersed in war and mediating indigenous people’s rights with a national government to resolving disputes involving high-profile families and couples and guiding labor and management teams through challenging union contract negotiations.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to all alternative means of resolving conflicts — including facilitation, mediation, arbitration, and mediation-arbitration — without simply resorting to costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining lawsuits and court proceedings. Such legal actions inevitably act as the backdrop or context for a good portion of our facilitation, arbitration, and mediation services. One of our firm’s contributions in such situations is to assess the realities of the benefits and downside to such legal actions for each party while focusing on mutually beneficial agreements that can better meet the interests of all parties to a conflict, rather than going to court with all of its unknown risks and outcomes. NAI delivers the full breadth of alternative dispute resolution processes to our clients as described above.

Regardless of the specific means of conflict resolution chosen, we believe that having a common negotiation vocabulary can help the parties to a conflict improve communication, both during and after our involvement, assuming the parties have ongoing interactions in one form or another. Once the history of a relationship has been surfaced along with relevant facts, the interests of the parties are uncovered, agreement options explored, and relevant standards drawn upon to guide parties towards a lasting commitment. The goal is always to identify a new path forward that meets the financial, emotional, and relationship interests of all involved, including parties who may not be formally represented in discussions.

Relying on NAI’s credibility and experience, our dispute resolution clients often have their needs met in exceptional ways that they could never have imagined at the outset of a conflict, leading to sustainable agreements and relationships for years to come.

NAI’s Mediation Services

Much of our firm’s work involves mediating, managing, and negotiating relationships between:

Unions and management teams, including union contract negotiations and collective agreements
Couples in personal relationships and marriages, as well as separation or divorce proceedings
Family-owned businesses grappling with control, succession, or management issues
Consulting firms and their clients when arrangements don’t go as planned from one or both sides’ perspectives
Executives and employers in contract negotiations or disputes
Companies working through disputes or opportunities with other companies, governments, or individuals
Nations dealing with other governments, including aboriginal, Indigenous, and First Nation negotiations

Our clients know that Negotiation Advice International’s integrity, reputation, experience, creativity, and smarts will ensure they’ll get better settlements that are worth more, however worth is to be measured in a given context.

We aim to build a strong foundation for our clients to relate to one another, communicate effectively and resolve their differences. We then disengage ourselves as quickly as appropriate because we believe that the more people can learn to deal with differences on their own, the faster new heights can be reached as they build or re-build their relationships. Of course, we are always available to re-engage whenever helpful.

Our NAI team has decades of experience in the realm of conflict management and dispute resolution, from facilitation and mediation services to mediation-arbitration and arbitration services. Whatever your specific need, NAI is here to help. On occasion, we will also provide negotiation training to all parties to a dispute together, providing shared vocabulary, problem-solving tools, and productive mindsets before actually beginning to mediate differences.

Dispute Resolution Including Mediation Services: Case Examples

Case #1: A Celebrity Family

A well-known family came to us to help resolve differences over a critical business decision that was being undermined by old disputes, personality differences, and familial dysfunction dating back decades. We started with basic guidelines for how we would all interact with one another, including a confidentiality agreement. Following one-on-one talks with each family member on the phone, we moved to a series of in-person meetings, listening to everyone’s perspectives, and analyzing and discussing how different Myers-Briggs personality types have contributed to family dynamics. After working through the details of this family’s history and enabling a difficult but meaningful dialogue about the past and present, we turned towards the future to resolve the business decision in a manner acceptable to all. Over time, NAI has continued to act as a sounding board for this family when any new relational or business issues have surfaced.

Case #2: A National Government and Indigenous Group

This mediation over relationship and self-governance matters involved a significant focus on the historic relationship between the parties and a detailed, jointly generated timeline to surface key events, impressions of those events, and the related impact on the relationship between the parties. We developed a mutually agreed process for these highly sensitive discussions, including the use of a talking stick. With a foundation of increased trust and transparency established, NAI continued to stay involved, contributing whenever helpful to coordination between the parties as they tackled specific issues together. 

Case #3: An International Mining Company and Union

Our Managing Director Peter Johnston led a labor-management engagement with a bitter history including recent lockouts and strikes. At the request of the union and management, Peter and his team started by training all parties together in best practices for negotiating with each other over the course of three days. Peter guided the parties in brainstorming solutions to their most challenging issues, helped structure talks, and mediated them until the parties were able to operate on their own. A ground-breaking contract was reached and the parties agreed that this training and facilitation of their discussions was critical to their positive outcome.

Case #4: Partners in a Marine Biology Company

The founding partners of this company approached us to help them sort through internal conflicts among themselves, including whether to sell their company or just part of it and how to best manage ineffective areas within their broader senior management ranks and specific service groups. We interviewed the founders and their senior team, assessed the business, conducted personality type assessments, and uncovered core issues that were causing the communication, relationship, and performance issues. We coached individuals and the executive team on how to manage these issues we’d identified and then mediated talks among the partners as to what they wanted for themselves and the company going forward. The result: the sale of a division instead of the company as a whole, with a clear transition plan for the founders retiring and selling their shares to the next generation of leaders. 

Case #5: Labor-Management Negotiations—Testimonial

“The immediate outcome of Peter Johnston’s involvement was a very successful contract negotiation. Following these negotiations, both Union and Company employees identified their utmost satisfaction with the process and results. Everyone’s most important needs have been satisfied in a situation where a win-win outcome was not obvious based on how we have negotiated historically.” —Ed West, Elkem Chemicals

Contact us confidentially to learn more or to confirm our availability.

Cambridge, USA — Vancouver, Canada