Conflict resolutions are reached through the Conflict Mediation process- This is a process in which a neutral third-party acts as a facilitator to assist in resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It is a non-adversarial approach to conflict resolution, where the parties generally communicate directly. The role of the conflict mediator is to facilitate communication between the parties, assist them in focusing on the real issues of the disputes, and generating options for settlement.
The Conflict Mediation Process
1. Opening Remarks by the Mediator
- Make introductions, describe your role as a mediator, and reinforce your neutrality.
- Set the agenda and timeframe for the meeting.
- Get agreement on the agenda. Ex. “How does that sound? Is there anything you would like to add?”
2. Define Ground Rules
- Use ground rules established by your organization, if they exist.
- Be prepared with ground rules prior to the conflict mediation meeting – Ask for additional ground rules.
- Get agreement from all parties to abide by the ground rules- otherwise suspend the meeting.
3. Statement of the Problem by All Parties
- All sides will have their opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted – this allows the mediator to obtain more information.
- Usually, the person who requested the conflict mediation will go first.
4. Information Gathering by Mediator
- The mediator asks open-ended questions – Listen for facts and feelings, and differentiate between the two.
- Ask questions such as: What actually happened? What do you think? What is a specific example?
- The mediator frequently summarizes or repeats back to clarify understanding
5. Problem Identification and Agreement
- Mediator looks for common goals between the parties.
- The mediator suggests issues to settle in the order that the likelihood of settlement will occur – begin with a less controversial issue.
6. Generating Options/Negotiations
- Methods vary in this step, based on the needs of the stakeholders. Typical options include:
Hypothetical Scenarios – participants to suggest an idea that describes the ideal scenario.
Caucus –All options and agreements move toward the “nobler motive”.
Mediator Proposal – the mediator proposes scenarios and invites the participants to modify it until agreement.
- Negotiation Tactics: The mediator needs to control some of tactics through the ground rules such as:
You go first – the mediator determines who goes first.
Willing to walk away – the mediator forestalls through the ground rules- common tactic used in labor disputes.
Appeal to higher authority – at times, problems can’t be solved and are escalated to a higher authority.
Split the difference –The danger is that both sides feel they lost, instead of both feeling they gained.
7. Reaching an Agreement
- The mediator listens for “buying signals” from both parties.
- The mediator then proposes a brainstorming session with all parties to come to a best solution.
- As soon as there is agreement on the solution, the mediator reinforces & recaps the solution. – all parties must agree before moving on to implementation.