Conflict Resolution Series: Helping Others Resolve Conflict
People are going to disagree. It’s absolutely natural to have your own opinion and disagreements are to be expected when two opinions clash. There are times when people are too close to a situation or each other to manage the conflict on their own so they need a neutral third party to help sort things out and resolve their conflict.
That’s where you come in. You become a mediator.
If you’ve been asked to help warring parties find resolution, it can feel exciting and daunting at the same time. Everyone wants to be heroic and do what they can to help people who are struggling, but care must be taken to ensure the neutral party doesn’t get sucked into the squabble and exacerbate the issue.
Assisting parties who are unable to resolve their own conflict is called mediating. Mediating is an act of intervention that seeks to reconcile people at odds or to resolve a conflict. Most mediators are trained professionals who use their skills to help parties break down their issues, examine them, and find a win/win and equitable resolution.
Mediating doesn’t have to be done by a professional although is some cases it should absolutely be in a professional setting. However, in many everyday settings you most likely already mediate disputes between your kids or family members regularly. If you frequently help family, friends, and co-workers sort things out, you may be using mediation without realizing it. Good for you!
Here are some important do’s and don’ts for helping others resolve conflict:
Offer them a sounding board
Use active listening to ensure everyone is understood
Offer a different perspective
Make room for them to change their mind
Encourage them to find a resolution
Refer them to a mediator or arbitrator
Pick a side
Tell someone what they should do
Share anything said in confidence
Take on responsibility that isn’t yours
Allow an inequitable abuse of power to occur
Effective mediation requires the mediator to stay neutral as well as in emotional control. They should be focused on an equitable exchange - making sure one person isn’t bulldozing the other or overpowering the situation. Working through the he said, she said aspects of a dispute take careful consideration to ensure the facts stay on the table and the focus remains on resolution.
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