Conflict happens to everyone, but there is help available! Try Mediation!
Mediation is a process where two (or more) participants meet with a neutral third person (a mediator) in order to resolve a problem, or problems. The Center for Dialogue & Resolution (CDR) in Eugene offers mediation to the community, and trainings. CDR claims that using the techniques that they offer results in satisfied participants 89% of the time. That’s a pretty darn good success rate! Success here is defined as things are better than before the mediation happened. Their basic training delineates different approaches of mediation, as well as covers the Core Standards put forth by the Oregon Mediation Association (OMA). Styles of mediation outlined in this article are Facilitative, Transformative, Evaluative, Directive, and Narrative.
The basic 40 hour training through CDR focuses on Facilitative mediation. In this approach, the mediators remain neutral even to the point of not sharing their personal point of view. The mediators follow a structure by which both participants share their perspective on the conflict, and identify issues and underlying interests. To elaborate, issues are the problems (identified by the participants), and the interests are the underlying needs or values that the participants seek to fulfill. Once the issues (the problems) and the interests (underlying values) are identified, options for solutions are generated, and the mediators guide the process toward a mutually agreed on resolution or resolutions.
The other approaches of mediation illustrated in CDRs follow the same structure as noted above but with a slight twist in each variation. There is no value in deciding one approach is the best, or better than others; the idea is to pick the best method according to the circumstances that you are facing.
In Transformative mediation, the mediators are especially concerned with the relationship between the participants. Obviously all mediators are dealing with relationship, but in Transformative mediation, we use the issues being grappled with to strengthen the relationship between participants.
Evaluative mediators often have some expertise on the issues at hand; they are expected to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals on the table.
Directive mediators are likely to be more active in setting the agenda, suggest time frames, and participate in brainstorms. This can be appropriate in a variety of settings, especially when mediating for young children (however, even when mediating for children, it’s best to encourage the participants to lead as much as possible when generating possible solutions).
Narrative mediators are interested in supporting participants to view the situation from multiple perspectives, thereby assisting participants to get some emotional distance from the problems at hand.
When you find yourself in conflict with someone it’s very helpful to be able to identify what you want. Once you are aware of what you want, it’s extremely beneficial to be able to identify the values you hold that underlie your desired outcome. A skilled mediator can help both participants identify the issues, and the essential values of each participant; this is key to solving the conflict. The mediator’s role is to remain impartial and support the right to self-determination for all involved, while guiding participants to mutually acceptable solutions. Mediators are trained to separate the problem from the people, and the interests of the participants from the positions that the participants hold. Coaching participants to use active listening skills is core to mediation. Good mediators also ask pertinent questions, use framing and reframing techniques, and apply mindfulness and deep compassion listening skills during the mediation.
And remember, conflict is a bid for connection! If there is no connection, there is no need for conflict. Relationships matter, and with a little help, everyone involved can wind up happier than they were before, including you!