Frequently Asked Questions
Who can use your services?
If you live or work in Bellevue or Kirkland, the BCRC can help you resolve conflicts. Outside of Bellevue and Kirkland, we recommend finding an alternate center through Resolution Washington.
Are your services confidential?
Written and verbal communications with our program are confidential and privileged per RCW 7.75.050. Records of mediations may also be confidential and privileged under RCW 7.07.030, and mediators generally cannot be summoned to appear in court.
What is conciliation and how is it different from mediation?
Conciliation is a phone process where an impartial, trained telephone conciliator listens to each person’s perspective in turn, and then goes back and forth over the phone to help them understand each other’s perspectives and needs, and negotiate a resolution that works for all concerned. Mediation is a more formal process that focuses on bringing everyone into the same conversation at the same time, whether in person or on-line, and helping them talk directly to each other. Mediation is generally needed only when the issues and relationships are both long and complex.
How do I get started?
Fill out this intake form or write to BCRC@bellevuewa.gov. A volunteer will reach out within a week or so. Every case starts with a phone call to get your perspective, learn what you have tried so far, and explain our services in detail. Then we work with you to decide next steps.
How is conflict resolution different than a lawsuit?
Mediation and conciliation are alternatives to going to court. Unlike a court case, services at the BCRC are free and do not require attorneys. We do not act as judges. We help you have a conversation about whether there is a solution that everyone can agree to. If you do not make an agreement, court is still an option. Any written and signed agreement that results from a mediation or conciliation may be admissable in a court of law.
What if the other side breaks the agreement?
Written signed agreements are binding contracts and can be enforced in a court just like any other type of contract. Verbal agreements may also be binding but are more difficult to prove.
Can you tell me what the law is regarding my issue?
Mediators and conciliators do not give out legal advice though some may also be lawyers. Our resource list links to some free and low-cost ways to do legal research and ask for legal advice. In addition, our resource articles contain some basic legal information on common topics.
Do you work with other departments in the City of Bellevue?
Cases are referred to us from many City of Bellevue departments, particularly code compliance, police and fire, land use, city manager's office, neighborhood outreach, affordable housing, utilities and parks. We also reach out to other departments for engagement as cases require.
Does BCRC help people who do not speak English as their first language?
BCRC accesses the translation and interpretation services so we are able to engage with residents who speak any first language. Many of our diverse volunteers speak other languages than English as well. All staff and volunteers are trained to be culturally adept, seeking to understand cultural differences that may be impacting communication or the issue causing conflict.
Do you have any tips for approaching conflict?
1. Assess - before saying anything to the person(s) involved, assess the situation:
- Are there any assumptions you may have? Things you think you know but don’t.
- Could you possibly contribute to the situation?
- Is there something about the situation, yourself, or the other that you don’t understand? What would happen if you just let this go or thought less critically about it?
2. Request a time to talk.
- Either in person or via text, letter, or email, ask to have a discussion about issue.
- If you are writing a text or email, wait a day to send it, rereading it to ensure it is not inflammatory.
- Use neutral language asking to talk together about a solution that works for everyone, without blaming the other person.
3. Know What you will say.
- The basic issue. Example: “The tree branch from the tree in your backyard is leaning over my house.”
- How it impacts you. Example: “I am worried it will fall on our house, car and family.”
4. Prepare to Understand.
- Seek understand their point of view. Example: “How is this impacting you?” “ What would you like to see happen, or are willing to do to resolve it?”
- When they speak, listen without interrupting or arguing, just as you would want to be heard.
6. Be Open to the Solution.
- Brainstorm and try resolutions for a period to see how they work.
- Work together on a solution rather than telling them what they need to do or to stop doing.
- Be open to their suggestions and well as to your own.
7. Make an Agreement.
- Make an agreement, verbally or in writing, about who will do what and when, even if for a short trial period.
- Answer who will do what, what will happen, by what date, and how it will happen, and what the next step is, and what will happen if agreements aren’t made.
8. Thank them.
- Thank the other person for working with you to resolve this.