Embracing Conflict – The Right Way To Approach Litigation and Win Your Case
I will set out below five principles to apply to any dispute you may find yourself in. Applying the principles will help you cut through the confusion caused by conflict, avoid the usual mistakes and help you achieve the result you want.
Before you apply the principles, you must take one important step. You must accept that you are in a dispute and that the other party in the dispute will act against your best interests if you let them. Please see my article on Denial.
Once you’ve taken this step and accepted that you will need to stand up for what you want you are ready to apply the principles.
The Objective edge – Be Objective
The chances are that you are perfectly able to control your emotions. You may be less able however, to spot when you are making decisions based on emotion.
Disputes and conflict always arouse emotions. Feelings of having been wronged or of being cheated or intimidated can be very powerful. Such emotions show themselves in different ways. You might find yourself saying something like, “I’m going to make sure he/she pays for this”, or at the other end of the emotional spectrum you may say something like, “please just make it go away”, or “I just want my life back”.
In either case you are thinking emotionally. If you can recognize this you are on your way to thinking objectively instead.
Objectivity allows you to make rational, considered decisions based on the merits of any given argument or case. Answers to questions such as, “What will I get out of this?” and “how likely am I to succeed?” can only be properly considered when thinking objectively.
Being objective will not only help you avoid expensive mistakes. It will give you a significant advantage over your opponent. Who either isn’t thinking objectively or is underestimating your ability to do so.
Getting Real- Establish the Facts
Going through the facts of a dispute can be a painstaking and frustrating exercise, but is absolutely essential.
It is a natural tendency for all of us to focus on the stronger parts of our arguments, ignoring possible weaknesses. We all also have a natural bias to construct arguments and narratives that support the point we want to put across.
This is not always helpful though, especially, if it is not supported by the facts. Analysing the facts is essential to establishing the objective truth behind any dispute or conflict. When you are armed with the truth, your chances of success are increased immeasurably.
Run The Intel – Analysis
There are some essential questions you need answers to if you are to succeed in winning your dispute. We have mentioned them already. They are:
What can I objectively expect to gain from pursuing this dispute?
What are the chances of achieving my best outcome?
What are the realistic alternatives to settlement?
What is the best outcome for me if there is no settlement?
You can only obtain answers to these questions by analysis of the circumstances and facts of the dispute. We would advise you as to how the law would best be able to help you and what remedies are open to you.
Once you have the answers to these questions you can move on to the next stage.
Sacrifice Your Queen – Strategy
Armed with the knowledge that steps 1 to 3 have given you, you are still unlikely to obtain a favourable result without a strategy as to how proceed.
Strategies don’t have to be complicated. If your position is not a good one, your strategy might simple be to try to bluff the opposition and take the best compromise you can get before you incur costs beyond an agreed limit. Conversely, if you position is strong your strategy might be to disclose your case in full to the other side at the beginning and pursue the action until the other side capitulates.
The important thing about a strategy is that you must have one. No step should be taken, even the sending of an email, without it having a clear purpose as part of a strategy.
Assess and Adapt
The fifth principle is the simplest, but also indispensable.
You should constantly reconsider and reassess the first four principles. Are you acting objectively? Are there any new facts? Do they affect the analysis? Is a new or revised strategy required?