One of the most difficult things you may ever be called on to do in the course of your personal life as an employee, member of an organization or even as a parent or member of a family may be conflict resolution and mediation. In this process, a person who is not involved in the conflict takes a position as a neutral party to help those involved succeed at meaningful communication around the topic at hand. As a conflict mediator, you would help those involved focus on the issues rather than personalities. You would facilitate communication to keep it on track and productive. This can be very hard, indeed. In this article, we will discuss the steps necessary for successful conflict mediation.
As the mediator, you would begin by explaining why you are there and what you plan to do. You must make it clear that you will not take sides. Furthermore, you must present a time-frame for the meeting so that it will not drag on forever. Presenting an agenda is an excellent idea. In this way, you can make sure each person involved has a measured amount of time to speak and no one participant can monopolize the time. Be sure to solicit agreement to the agenda from all involved.
You must also set ground rules before you begin. If you are at work or if you are helping with an organization to which you belong, there may be conflict mediation rules in the bylaws. Be sure to abide by these if they exist. Otherwise, ground rules such as refraining from interrupting, using bad language, shouting and so on are common. Follow through by suspending the meeting if people do not abide by the ground rules.
With all of your part out of the way, it is now time for each party to have an uninterrupted say. Be sure that the parties adhere to the time-frame and have a chance to completely air their grievances.
With this done, you would clarify the information by asking some open ended questions and making open ended statements. For example, you might ask what happened or seek out specific examples. You might also practice reflective listening at this point by rephrasing what the parties have said. This makes it clear you understand and gives them a chance to think through the topics a bit more.
Once all issues are clearly stated, you should identify and point out areas in which the parties’ goals and wishes overlap. This establishes common ground and gets the participants off on the right foot to arrive at an agreement.
From this point, you can begin negotiating by helping the parties create options. You might begin by proposing solutions that occur to you and seeking feedback from the participants. Be sure to keep a close eye on participants adherence to ground rules. Set an amount of time for each to provide feedback to keep communications from getting off track.
After brainstorming, identify the big areas where agreement has been made. Identify other areas of disagreement and decide whether or not agreement is important. It may be that if agreement has been met in the most important areas of the conflict, some others can simply be accepted.
Learning to mediate a conflict is an important and valuable personal development skill that can serve you well in many different areas of life. Follow the advice presented here to help others arrive at mutually satisfactory agreements.
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