Key Communication Skills for the Mediator

Key Communication Skills for the Mediator

Mediators are the custodians of the communication flow. They need to pay close attention to communication, both their own communication skills and the communication dynamics of the participants. They should strive to model clear communication that supports collaborative action, and be very aware of the challenge Shaw describes in the quote above. They should also be aware that to manage the conversation in a manner that maintains focus and supports resolution is a skill that matures over time.

Most mediators consider empathic listening to be their core skill. In addition, the advanced listening skill of reframing is vital. Mediators need to constantly reframe what they hear in order to discharge unnecessary negativity and personal attacks and thereby enable the conflict to be worked on productively. This is one of the most active ways in which they engage in the conflict. Mediators also need to ask a lot of questions, not to satisfy their curiosity but to support the conflict-resolution process. And when they need to assert themselves or be persuasive, mediators are tactful communicators.

This chapter focuses on the key communication skills that support the mediation process. Each of these skills is reviewed from the perspective of the mediator.

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The Mediation Process

The Mediation Process

In this post/chapter, I review my definition of mediation and explain the five basic phases of the mediation process, as shown in the illustration above. I also discuss the caucus and how it can be used before the mediation as part of convening, during the mediation as part of the education phase, and after the joint mediation sessions as part of the follow-up process. The chapter ends with a consideration of the involvement of management champions.

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The Mediator's Stance

The Mediator's Stance

In martial arts training, students are taught the benefit of various body and mental postures. The totality of these postures, when adopted together, amounts to an effective stance for defense and attack. Students are taught to adopt this stance when presented with a challenge, notwithstanding any contrary reflexive or reactive instincts or habits. The familiarity of the stance inspires confidence and prepares them to meet their reality with competence and agility. It ensures that they are on the best footing possible.

In mediation, there are a number of key postures that are helpful to adopt, that together can be described as the mediator’s stance. In essence, the stance is more of an attitude and mindset which ensures that you do no harm, while supporting collaboration and the emergence of a creative solution. It prepares you to respond consciously in the moment when mediating, and allows you to mediate informally.

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Med-Arb: The Best of Both Worlds or Just A Limited ADR Option?

Med-Arb: The Best of Both Worlds or Just A Limited ADR Option?

People in conflict are looking for a resolution process that is fair, consistent, transparent, inexpensive, quick, and in some way allows them to tell their own story. Med-Arb offers parties the ability to obtain a definite resolution of a particular dispute, with reduced cost, efficient process, and flexibility to pursue consensual settlement prior to or during binding arbitration. In the right circumstances, med-arb may represent the process that best serves the interests for your clients.

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The Role of Intuition in Conflict Resolution

The Role of Intuition in Conflict Resolution

There is no question that to resolve a conflict beyond a superficial level, the emotional energy that accompanies any conflict must be addressed. And yet how we go about working with emotions in conflict situations is not that clear. Some encourage a focus on forgiveness, while others point out that until the nasty reality of revenge is addressed, forgiveness will be illusionary. Some say we need to understand the neurobiology of emotion to respond and others say that all we have to do is listen actively.

In this article, I want to explore the role of intuition and suggest that at the heart of the work of conflict resolution, whether by professional mediators, or HR managers is our ability to sense what to do or not do, intervention wise. To do this, we first need to develop our capacity to sense through feeling and images. Secondly, and at a cognitive level, we need to develop rules of thumbs or what some call ‘heuristics’ to guide us in our interventions.

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What's the difference between Mediation and Toxic Triangulation?

What's the difference between Mediation and Toxic Triangulation?

The tendency to deflect responsibility is common in the workplace with employees blaming others while ignoring their own contribution to a problem. And when they are unable to address their challenge directly themselves, they often turn to third parties-typically those with some power to address the situation in their favor. Their narrative may reveal a victim mentality. Regardless, they want their perspective validated and something done.
 
If your company has an 'open door policy' employees may go above their supervisors head to address their concerns with someone higher up the chain of command. And from time to time employees do go to HR.
 
This is where you have to be careful, as there is a thin line between actions that are helpful and those that are not! 

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Is Mediation Enough?

Is Mediation Enough?

I’ve been working on better ways to deal with conflict in organizations for more than 40 years. And my understanding of conflict, its effects in organizations and of how best to reduce its harms and capitalize on its benefits has certainly evolved. I learned from hard experience that grievances and lawsuits can leave personal scars and do permanent damage to work relationships. Mediation produces better results with less damage. A stint as an organizational ombudsman taught me that discussing disputes confidentially, off the record could yield good solutions and help keep work relationships intact. I’ve been working on better ways to deal with conflict in organizations for more than 40 years. And my understanding of conflict, its effects in organizations and of how best to reduce its harms and capitalize on its benefits has certainly evolved. I learned from hard experience that grievances and lawsuits can leave personal scars and do permanent damage to work relationships. Mediation produces better results with less damage. A stint as an organizational ombudsman taught me that discussing disputes confidentially, off the record could yield good solutions and help keep work relationships intact. 

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9 Things You May Not Know About Mediation

9 Things You May Not Know About Mediation

Many people think mediation is simply an alternative to a legal suit, but it can be much more. It can create a more empowered and productive workplace environment. The best time to learn mediation techniques and have a mediation plan is before you actually need it!...

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Save Your Company through Mediation Only?

Save Your Company through Mediation Only?

“If this thing fails, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Lance tells me as we finish our first call.. “And under no circumstances can our investors find out what’s going on.”

Par for the course for a mediator to hear, and quite understandable. I give him the assurances of confidentiality and a look at the powerful toolbox we as an experienced mediation team will be drawing from. And this reality check: “I guarantee that at the end of this process there will be change; and I guarantee that not everyone is going to like it.” That’s often how the “team performance sessions” begin when we get called in to support a team in crisis.

He and his cofounders are about to entrust us with some of the most important things in the world to them – their startup dreams and their identities. Sugar coating what they are about to enter into won’t help anyone.

Can a mediator singlehandedly save a company? I submit – yes, we can!  (Superhero cape not included.)

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The Best Ways to Utilize Mediation in the Workplace

The Best Ways to Utilize Mediation in the Workplace

When do you know you need mediation in your workplace?

The first thing to know is what mediation is (and isn’t) so that you’re equipped to recognize the need if and when conflict at work arises.

The second thing to know is that when your company has a built-in system to proactively manage conflict, then you will never have to face the question of needing mediation. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because here’s the reality:  Few organizations have such a system, and we’re most often called in to provide mediation services when the client workplace situation has reached the crisis point – and spiraling out of control fast.

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