Step 5 Refer to Higher Authority

When parties cannot agree on what to do to resolve a conflict, each person has two other options:

  • Refer the matter to others to decide (Step 5); or,
  • Take unilateral action (one-sided, without consent or cooperation from the opponents or higher authorities) to deal with the situation (Step 6).

The defining characteristic of Step 5 higher authority is that the parties give control of the decision to a group (e.g., a vote where the majority prevails) or another person (e.g., a judge or boss).  The plus in this approach is that it results in a final decision. The minus is that the minority may not be willing to accept the outcome, which is why the Preferred Path positions Step 5 Higher Authority in a back up position, after the collaborative options (Steps 3 and 4), which are better for dealing with concerns of both majority and minority.

Click the buttons below for more guidance on the Higher Authority step.