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This seminar examines the role of Mediation in problem solving and human conflict. The emphasis is on adapting mediation styles and form to unique conflict situations to improve the agreement outcomes sought through the mediation process.
The workplace and the home are very different environments but where adults find themselves most of their daily lives. This program will consider historical and common sources of conflict in these locations, how they are similar and how they are different.
Mediation , as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties.
Mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that "ordinary" negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential. The presence of a mediator is the key distinguishing feature of the process.
Mediators use various techniques to open, or improve, dialogue between disputants, aiming to help the parties reach an agreement (with concrete effects) on the disputed matter. Much depends on the mediator's skill and training. The mediator must be wholly impartial .
Mediation works purely facilitative: the practitioner has no advisory role. Instead, a mediator seeks to help parties to develop a shared understanding of the conflict and to work toward building a practical and lasting resolution
Most common aspects of a mediator codes of conduct include:
1.) a commitment to inform participants as to the process of mediation.
2.) the need to adopt a neutral stance towards all parties to the mediation, revealing any potential conflicts of interest.
3.) the requirement for a mediator to conduct the mediation in an impartial manner
4.) within the bounds of the legal framework under which the mediation is undertaken any information gained by the mediators should be treated as confidential.
5.) mediators should be mindful of the psychological and physical wellbeing of all the mediations participants.
6.) mediators should not offer legal advice, rather they should direct participants to appropriate sources for the provision of any advice they might need.
7.) mediators should seek to maintain their skills by engaging in ongoing training in the mediation process.
8.) mediators should practice only in those fields in which they have expertise gained by their own experience or training.
Confidentiality lies at the heart of mediation:
There is no doubt confidentiality contributes to the success and integrity of the mediation process. However it will be difficult for a mediator to guarantee full confidentiality protection between the parties.
1.) Evaluative mediation : has somewhat of an advisory role in that its practitioners evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each sides argument should they go to court. Main drive & goal is settlement.
2.) Facilitative & Transformative mediation: Looks at conflict as a crisis in communication and seeks to help resolve the conflict thereby allowing people to feel empowered in themselves and better about each other, the agreement that arises from this type of mediation occurs as a natural outcone of the resolution of conflict
Mediation is adaptable to anticipate problems, grievances and difficulties between parties before the conflict may arise.
A key way mediation is used to prevent these conflicts is complaint handling and management. This is a conflict prevention mechanism designed to handle a complaint effectively at first contact and to minimize the possibility of it developing into a dispute
Effective communication provides the ideal way to prevent and resolve any conflict; talking things over — along with listening — handles problems optimally
One core problem in the dispute-resolution process involves the determination what the parties actually are disputing about. Through the process of mediation participants can agree on the dispute or issues requiring resolution.
Definition of the nature of a dispute can often clarify the process of determining what method will best suit its resolution.
One of the primary uses of mediation involves parties using the mediation process to define the issues, develop options and achieve a mutually-agreed resolution
Mediation can function not only as a tool for dispute resolution but also as a means of dispute prevention.
Mediation can be used to facilitate the process of contract negotiation by the identification of mutual interests and the promotion of effective communication between the two parties
Mediation in wider aspect can also serve to prevent conflict or to develop mechanisms to address conflicts as they arise.
creating favorable conditions for settling conflicts:
1.) Providing an appropriate physical environment- this is through selection of neutral venues
2.) Providing a procedural framework- establish basic ground rules, provide order, sequence and continuity. The mediators opening statement provides an opportunity to establish a structural framework, including the mediation guidelines on which the process will be based.
3.) Improving the emotional environment- restricting pressure, aggression and intimidation in the conference room by providing a sense of neutrality and by reducing anxiety among parties.
People in conflict tend not to communicate effectively and poor communication can cause disputes to occur or escalate. For mediators to encourage communication efficiently, they themselves must be good communicators and practice good speaking and listening skills, pay attention to non-verbal messages and other signals emanating from the context of the mediation.
Negotiation so that the parties are able to negotiate more constructively, efficiently and productively. This function is prominent after the problem-defining stages of mediation and involves mediators bringing direction and act as catalysts for creative problem solving.
Mediation contains 3 aspects : feature, values, and objectives.
Values include : Non Adversarialism, Responsiveness and Self Determination and Party Autonomy.
1.) Non-adversarialism value: not based on the attitudes of the parties involved, but is based on the actual process of mediation and how it is carried out. Process must come to a logical conclusion based on a decision, mediation does not always end in a decision.
2.) Responsiveness : It allows the parties to come to their own decisions on what is best for them at the time. Responsiveness shows how the mediation process is informal, flexible and collaborative and is person centered. responds to the interests of the parties without the restrictions of the law.
3.) Self-determination & Party Autonomy: gives rise to parties gaining the ability to make their own choices on what they will agree on. It gives the parties the ability to negotiate with each other to satisfy their interests, generate some options which could lead to an outcome satisfactory to both parties. It turns the responsibility back on to the parties to deal with the issue and hopefully to a satisfactory conclusion.
It is the mediator’s responsibility to let the parties express their emotions entailed in conflict safely. Allowing the parties to express these emotions may seem unhelpful in resolving the dispute, but if managed constructively these emotions may help towards a better relationship between the parties in the future.
Benefits of mediation may include:
discovering parties' interests and priorities
healthy venting of emotions in a protected environment
an agreement to talk about a set agenda
identifying roles of the constituents, such as relatives and professional advisors
knowledge of a constructive dispute resolution for use in a future dispute
, a conflict is a “ direct opposition, disagreement or clash ” . ] A conflict therefore exists when two or more parties realize that their interests are incompatible, when these parties express hostile attitudes or undertake actions to the detriment of the other parties. The opponents in a conflict can be individuals, groups or countries. If we agree with this definition, conflicts are an inherent part of human nature; they cannot be avoided, but it is possible to learn to manage them better. Peaceful conflicts are ones in which the parties involved manage their differences in a non-violent way. A conflict becomes violent when one of the two parties tries to dominate or eliminate the other party in order to achieve its goals .
Personal conflict takes many forms, some more serious than others. It stems from the long-term choices you make and decisions that you have to make in an instant. Knowing your character and integrity determines how you solve your conflict.
1.) When there is opposition between ideas, which is inevitable, there is conflict present. To have conflict it is not necessary for there to be more than one person; personal conflict is just as common as group conflict. There are different types of conflict, whether personal or group, and some are more common than others. The most common personal conflicts are approach-approach conflict and approach-avoidance or avoidance-avoidance conflict. The most common group conflicts are task conflict and personal conflict.
Personal conflict is typically a result of a decision that must be made between two or more things. The conflict occurs when the two options have a negative or positive outlook. When your personal conflict is a result of two equally positive options, it is considered an approach-approach conflict. In this case you must decide between two things that are good and could both be positive forces in your life.
Approach-Avoidance or Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict
Approach-avoidance conflict is when one option is a positive and the other is negative, while avoidance-avoidance conflict is when there are two negative options. When you are met with approach-avoidance conflict you are dealing with a personal goal in which you must stomach a negative consequence if you reach that goal. In other words, to get what you want you may have to sacrifice something else.
Avoidance-avoidance conflict is when you must choose between two negative options. This conflict is a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.
Task conflict often occurs in groups when two or more people cannot agree on the best possible procedure for completing a task. It is important to understand that this type of conflict can be very beneficial. While in some cases it can be detrimental when people within the conflict are not adequately equipped with the skills to handle the conflict maturely, if they are this type of conflict opens the door for exploring new ideas that may only be presented when there are opposing ideas concerning a topic.
4.) Personal Conflict
Personal conflict merely occurs between two people who disagree on the outlook of a specific topic. This is usually a case of people just not getting along and, unlike task conflict, it is rarely a good thing
Indifference and ignorance could seem to be the best solutions to a conflict. This is not, however, the case, since these reactions often only make the situation worse. Think about it for a moment: what could be more insulting than being ignored when we disagree with a person or a group? Indeed, indifference or ignorance can easily lead to violence. Violent acts or words attract attention. It is likewise important to analyze ourselves and ask whether our behaviour might be at the root of the conflict. It is therefore impor tant that we look inside ourselves to identify the causes of a conflict
competitive, compromising, collaborative, accommodating, or avoiding.
Typically, a cycle of conflict is triggered when someone says or does something to which you attribute a motivation. If that attribution is something negative or threatening to you, you assign blame and respond with destructive behavior—fight or flight—which triggers a similar cycle within the other person. There are two places you can short-circuit the cycle.
The point of perception—intervene by working on not being so quick to attribute a motivation. Once you know what your hot buttons are, work on desensitizing them.
When a hot button has been pushed—engage in a dialogue that involves constructive behaviors; ask, don’t assume; find out where the other person is coming from; share your reactions honestly and move toward problem solving.
It isn’t easy. Attribution happens very quickly, and emotions tend to get high. The first step is to develop self-awareness through an assessment process such as the CDP. The next step is to work with a coach on a plan for developing areas that are challenging for you and find ways to support that development.
Changing Individuals, Relationships, and Social Structures through Conflict Interventions
Some of the most prevalent distinctions in both the academic and programmatic literatures about theories of change center around levels of analysis - or whether change efforts focus primarily on individuals, intergroup relationships, or structures and systems. While many theories cut across levels of analysis and most programs work at all of these levels to some extent, program's theories of change often focus predominantly on one level as the starting point for initiating change.
In promoting cognitive, emotional, and behavioral change, intervention programs utilize, though rarely explicitly, a wide array of learning theories prevalent in educational and therapeutic literatures.
- Insight and Awareness: Many practitioners talk about the importance of individual insight or the "aha" experience of discovery in raising awareness and changing attitudes. They also use a variety of tools and methodologies to surface unconscious attitudes and behaviors with the understanding that awareness allows for critical thinking and choice.
Emotional Change: While most programs recognize that strong emotions are an inevitable part of ethnic conflict, they exhibit a range of views on the role of emotions in individual change efforts.
- Emotional Control: Drawing on rational actor paradigms, many programs view the expression of strong emotions during an intervention as an unavoidable obstacle to resolution that needs to be effectively controlled or managed. When personal emotions can be effectively controlled, parties are better able to make more rational situation assessments and decisions for resolving conflict.
Behavioral Change: A wide array of theories are invoked to promote behavioral change and learning during interventions. A few of these are mentioned briefly below.
- Modeling and Social Learning: Most programs draw implicitly from social learning theory in emphasizing the importance of modeling and imitation in behavior change. For example, practitioners often mention 'walking the talk' or invoking Gandhi's precept to 'live the change we seek to create' in providing a model of behavior for participants during an intervention.
is the process by which conflicts , such as ethnic conflict , are transformed into peaceful outcomes. It differs from conflict resolution and conflict management approaches in that it recognizes "that contemporary conflicts require more than the reframing of positions and the identification of win-win outcomes. The very structure of parties and relationships may be embedded in a pattern of conflictual relationships that extend beyond the particular site of conflict. Conflict transformation is therefore a process of engaging with and transforming the relationships, interests, discourses and, if necessary, the very constitution of society that supports the continuation of violent conflict”.
Conflict transformation approaches differ from those of conflict management or conflict resolution . Whereas conflict transformation involves transforming the relationships that support violence, conflict management approaches seek to merely manage and contain conflict, and conflict resolution approaches seek to move conflict parties away from zero-sum positions towards positive outcomes, often with the help of external actors
addressing the root causes of a particular conflict over the long term. It aims to transform negative destructive conflict into positive constructive conflict and deals with structural, behavioral and attitudinal aspects of conflict
Cooperative Problem Solving is designed for people who want to
know how to resolve conflicts with other people in a way that leads to mutual agreements and stronger relationships.
How We Deal With Conflicts: It is normal for people to live and work well together. But it is normal also for us to have conflicts from time to time. We
disagree with each other because we each see the world differently, and we have different ideas about what we want and how to do things. To be human is to have conflicts. If we all agreed on everything, life would be boring! We don’t have a choice about whether conflict will happen in our lives. But we do have a choice about how we will deal with it. We really have three choices: flight, fight, and unite.
Common ground approach is the method we use to resolve disputes, whereby the parties involved understand and honor their differences and find a mutually beneficial agreement based on their shared interests - their common ground. It is sometimes called the cooperative, collaborative or win-win approach and it can be applied to all kinds of conflict, from small everyday ones between individuals to the larger ones that divide communities.
Common ground media uses communication mediums such as radio, TV, film, print and Internet to facilitate transforming conflict into cooperative action. The aim is to show that contentious problems can be examined in ways that inform and entertain, while promoting the search for solutions.
Conflict management generally involves taking action to keep a conflict from escalating further - it implies the ability to control the intensity of a conflict and its effects through negotiation, intervention, institutional mechanisms and other traditional diplomatic methods. It usually does not usually address the deep-rooted issues that many be at the cause of the conflict originally or attempt bring about a solution.
Conflict resolution seeks to resolve the incompatibilities of interests and behaviours that constitute the conflict by recognizing and addressing the underlying issues, finding a mutually acceptable process and establishing relatively harmonious relationships and outcomes.
Conflict transformation aims at shifting how individuals and communities perceive and accommodate their differences, away from adversarial (win-lose) approaches toward collaborative (win-win) problem-solving. Transforming a conflict is long-term process that engages a society on multiple levels to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills that empower people to coexist peacefully. Overcoming fear and distrust, dealing with stereotypes and perceptions, and learning how to communicate effectively are important steps in redefining relationships to bring forth social justice and equality for parties in conflict.
Peace building refers to activities that go beyond crisis intervention or conflict management, such as long-term development that focuses on developing social, governmental and non-governmental (including religious) mechanisms that favor nonviolent, constructive means of resolving differences. Peace building is an approach to post-conflict settings that recognizes the need for reconciliation, developing a capacity for conflict resolution, and working towards a sustainable peace. It involves a full range of approaches, processes, and stages needed for transformation toward more manageable, peaceful relationships and governance structures. Peace building is distinct from both peacemaking and peacekeeping as it is proactive in dealing with conflict, rather than reactive.
Peacemaking is the official or unofficial diplomatic effort intended to end the bloodshed between contending parties embroiled in conflict. The objective is to move a violent conflict into a nonviolent stage, where differences are normally then settled through negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. International organizations serve as peacemakers and act as neutral third parties or provide other non-violent channels of dispute resolution, such as international courts.