How to be a good mediator during times of conflict and disagreements
Let us get real! At one point or another we had to deal with some kind of dispute or conflict in our life, whether that had been through a friend or work colleague – it happens, and to be perfectly honest – it’s pretty common.
People have disagreements constantly, however, a lot of us find it hard to reach a mutual understanding and take compromises in the end. Being a good mediator requires a set of key skills which I shall lay out below.
Never take sides
This is a simple rule to becoming a good mediator, but sometimes hard to achieve as you may favour one person more than the other – but this is the most important rule. Taking sides may result in favouritism and will end with an unfair outcome.
Anger and Frustration
Imagine putting more logs on a burning fire. You are only then contributing to the already uncomfortable and heightened situation, prolonging the tension and delaying a positive, effective outcome. As a mediator, you must be the calm one. Breathe!
Getting others involved
Only the people directly affected by the conflict should be involved, as anyone else joining the mediation would cause even more unbalance, unfairness and hysteria. Remember that fire – we want to extinguish it.
It is very common for mediations to last for sometime. They may take a few minutes however some last a few days to weeks depending on the complexity of the situation. Understanding the importance of compromise is crucial. Usually not everyone will walk away happy so giving balanced options on how to pursue the resolution is key. Achieving all round happiness and positive morale is hard, which brings me back to compromise. Find an outcome which suits the majority and work out the indifferences separately.
Reflection and moving forward
Before reaching a resolution it is important to enable everyone the chance to reflect on the situation which arose, and how it can be prevented in the future. It is important to note, as the mediator you should not cast blame on an individual at this point. Reflection and moving forward is about bringing everyone back together, unless the situation is slightly more complex and all means have been exhausted.
To conclude, finding an outcome can be a tricky part of mediating but throughout the process you would have been listening from all concerned, taking notes about both arguments to then make a professional judgement and plan action points. Making clear steps to be followed after the mediation is key, as this will help all, effectively, move on from the disagreement and original conflict. Perhaps typing this up and internally distributing to the individuals involved could be a good way to demonstrate this (action points). You could also hold follow-up meetings to check on progress, they may possibly help prevent a future issue from arising.
Mediation is hard and is NOT for everyone. It is important to recognise this, as you may find yourself attempting to mediate but then actually be contributing to the conflict and causing more harm than good. Conflict of interest is important too. Don’t just be sticking up for your friend and then pretend to know what you are talking about. Get someone else, who has no relationship with the people involved. Remember finding a resolution must be done in the fairest and most honest way to prevent misjudgement and inaccuracy.
More information can be found here http://www.civilmediation.org/