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B5 mediation skills for quick intervention managing conflict with angry clients_ participants' manual



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  • 1. Putting out the Fire:Mediation Skills for Quick Intervention2010 OCASI Executive Directors Forum November 1-3, 2010
  • 2. 2 ©Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephens Community House, 2010 St. Stephen’s Conflict Resolution ServiceSt. Stephens Community House is a community-based social service agency, servingthe needs of Kensington Market and surrounding neighbourhoods in downtown WestToronto since 1974. St. Stephen’s Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) offers mediationand training services for people and organizations in conflict or acting to manage futureconflict. We draw on over 20 years of practical experience in providing dispute resolutionfor people from diverse backgrounds in many different types of disputes. Improvingcommunication and strengthening relationships is at the heart of our work.Conflict Resolution Service, St. Stephen’s Community House91 Bellevue Ave., Toronto, ON. M5T 2N8 416-925-2103  “Putting out the Fire” Mediation Skills for Quick InterventionInterpersonal conflicts are an inevitable part of organizational life, so a key leadership skill isknowing how to resolve them in a timely and constructive way. This workshop will introduceexecutive directors to mediation principles and techniques that will enhance their ability to respondto conflicts as they arise, and to “put out fires” by improving communication and buildingunderstanding between people in dispute.Workshop participants will explore the nature and dynamics of conflict, the role of themediator, and learn the core mediation skills of interest-based problem solving andactive listening. They will then learn how to apply these principles and skills to resolveconflicts “on the spot” using a “Quick Intervention Model.” By the end of the workshop,participants will have a technique they can use to intervene as a neutral third party inconflict situations that may arise between staff, board members, colleagues, clients,partners and others.Workshop Agenda:Part 1: Understanding Conflict - CRS Philosophy of Conflict - The dynamics of conflict escalationPart 2: Responding to conflict using mediation principles - What is mediation and the role of the mediator - Interest/needs based approach to problem-solving - Active ListeningPart 3: Quick Intervention model_____________________________________________________________________Thinking about Conflict Differently • Conflict is inevitable; • Conflict is an opportunity for learning, dialogue and understanding;
  • 3. 3 • There are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work. With the right response, conflict can be an opportunity. The Dynamics of Conflict EscalationInterpersonal conflict is often characterized by anger and conflict escalation.Conflicts escalate when people hear another person’s anger, accusations,judgements, complaints etc., and they protect themselves by:Defending and by Attacking with their behaviour (“I’m not doing  criticism of the other’s behaviour anything wrong.”) and (“You’ve broken the rules.”); their character (“Im being  criticism of the other’s character reasonable.”) (“You’re being unreasonable.”);  threats (“I’ll speak to the manager if…”) or insults (“You’re incompetent.”)When the other hears the attacks, they respond similarly by defendingthemselves and attacking the other. This escalates the conflict as both peopleshift their attention away from the problem and focus on defending themselvesand attacking the other.There is also a physiological basis for conflict escalation. When we are angry orfeel put down, let down, shut down or threatened, the rational/cognitive part ofour brain is “hijacked” by the amydala (the locus of our survival instincts andemotional memory). When this happens, we can only think in terms of “defense”and “attack”.The effects of conflict escalation include:  distrust;  communication breakdown as both avoid hurtful interactions;  misunderstandings that result from unchecked assumptions;  each person’s sense of legitimacy is undermined by the other’s criticisms;  minimal problem solving as each spends energy on defending themselves and attacking the other.
  • 4. 4If this cycle of conflict escalation is interrupted and reversed, it is possibleto build a cooperative problem-solving climate. It also increases thechances of reaching a resolution that will meet everyone’s needs. St. Stephen’s Approach to Mediation Some Key Elements MEDIATOR M D D DISPUTANT DISPUTANTMediation is a voluntary, informal dispute resolution process in which a thirdparty, the mediator, assists disputants to better understand one another and tofind mutually satisfactory solutionsThe role of the mediator:A mediator is: impartial/”multi-partial” in charge of the process a communication facilitator/coachA mediator is not: a judge an advocate for either partyA mediator does not solve people’s problems, rather s/he empowersdisputants to resolve their own conflicts.
  • 5. 5 Three Approaches to Resolving Conflict 1. A Power-based approach uses force to make someone to do something they would not otherwise do. Power-based approaches include the use of one’s authority, threats, manipulation, physical force, intimidation, public pressure, wars, strikes, acts of civil disobedience, etc. The advantage to this approach is that it can be clear and decisive. The disadvantage is that it results in win-lose settlements, with underlying issues unresolved and great potential for further conflict. 2. A Rights-based approach uses general standards, rules, principles, policies or processes that apply to everyone. You ask, "Whats the rule?" that applies to everyone and apply it in that instance. These standards may be explicit and codified in laws, policy manuals, contracts, religious moral codes, etc., or may be implicit in given cultures or contexts. The advantage of this approach is that it is often seen to be fair and just. The disadvantage is that it is less flexible and can lead to dissatisfaction in one or both of the disputants. 3. Interest-based / Win-Win approaches seek to uncover and meet the needs of all parties involved in a conflict. You ask: “What needs or underlying interests are you trying to address by taking a certain position. What is important to you about having what you’re asking for?” Interest- based approaches seek to generate new ways of meeting as many needs of as many of the parties as possible. The disadvantage of this approach is that it can take longer to reach resolution. The advantage is that it leads to more durable agreements, as both parties have contributed to the solution.All of these approaches have value, however, many people tend to usepower based and rights based approaches when an interest-basedapproach might have generated a more creative, more satisfying solutionfor all. In situations where quick or interim solutions are required, an interestbased approach can be used in combination with rights and power-basedapproaches.
  • 6. 6*Adapted from Ury, Brett and Goldberg., Getting Disputes Resolved: Designing Systems to Cut the Costs ofConflict. The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, 1993. Interest-Based Conflict Resolution Interpersonal conflict can occur when people feel that their needs are being threatened or not being met by others. This causes people in conflict to become fixed in their positions, which are judgments, assertions, demands or fixed ideas about how to resolve a problem. Listening for the underlying reasons why someone takes a particular position helps us identify their interests, or what they need or care about. Reflective listening is a way of helping the mediator and the disputants to explore underlying interests. This allows disputants to move away from inflexible positions. When two parties come to a mutual understanding about each other’s interests, they can often generate multiple solutions that allow each of them to meet their needs met without having to compete or compromise. This approach is called win-win, or interest-based, problem-solving.Point to Ponder:Can you think of a conflict situation with an angry person that may have had a differentoutcome if you had been able to uncover and listen for his/her underlying interests?How might the outcome have been different?
  • 7. 7 Identifying InterestsInterests are what people really need or care about. Underneath people’s anger isoften disappointment with unmet needs or a fear that their needs will not be met.Anger often leads people to take positions, which are judgments, assertions, demandsor fixed ideas about how to resolve a problem: - They are usually accompanied by assumptions about the other person - Positions harden as conflict escalates. People dig into them. - People become invested in positions. Changing them can mean losing face.We need to understand the underlying reasons why people are angry and hold certainpositions. Exploring people’s experiences, feelings and values helps us to identify theirneeds/interests. - Mistaken assumptions are clarified. - Understanding people’s needs/interests leads to better solutions You’ve done absolutely You won’t let me do nothing on this project! anything, you Anger & I’m fed up with you! control freak! Positions: Underlying Reasons Feelings Feelings Experiences Experiences Values Values ???? Interests/Needs Interests/Needs Shared Interests Some Different Types of InterestsSubstantive Interests Psychological Interests Procedural Interests(result) “What” (emotional) (process) “How”· Things Respect · When· Resources · Having a voice · How long· Time · Feeling included · How transparent· Money · Saving face · Fairness· Food · Feeling cared about · Confidentiality
  • 8. 8 Why Should a Mediator Listen Well?  To help the mediator and disputants identify and understand underlying interests  To relieve the pressure of high emotions and calm people down  To show respect for disputants’ needs, values, & feelings  To help disputants organize and clarify their thoughts  To acknowledge concerns without endorsing them The Power of Reflective ListeningReflective listening helps the disputants feel heard. When a person knows clearly that the things of importance to them have been heard, they: • Feel calmer • Are less likely to respond with defensiveness and attacks, reducing conflict escalation • Have greater willingness to listen • Are more likely to disclose further items of importanceReflective listening empowers disputants to solve their own problems. When a person is invited to contribute information, they: • Feel validated and valued • Become invested in determining a resolution • Are empowered to take control of problem solving
  • 9. 9 A Step-by-Step Guide to Reflective Listening C entre yourself and get ready to listen L isten for what is important to the disputants A cknowledge what you heard I nvite more information M ove toward Problem-solving(1) Centre yourself and get ready to listenCentre yourself so that you are calm and can give your full attention to thedisputants.Get ready to listen with curiosity, openness, respect & interest. Know that youdon’t know everything. Resist assumptions. People and situations are uniqueand complex. Expect to be surprised. Real listening requires respect for peopleand a genuine interest in what’s important to them.(2) Listen for what is important to the disputantsListen for what is important to each disputant by exploring what is under theiranger and the positions they take, including their underlying interests. You’re a Anger & Position control Some Different Types of Interests freak! Experiences Feelings ???? Values ? Needs/ Interests
  • 10. 10(3) Acknowledge / Reflect what you heard & pause for a responseIn order to help the disputants feel that you understand what is important to them,reflect back what you heard and then pause to make sure that you have heardthem correctly. REFLECT WHAT YOU LISTEN HEARD for what’s - Key points PAUSE important - Feelings for response - Positive values & intentions - Needs/Interests(4) Invite InformationAsking questions can help disputants uncover their underlying interests andexpress more about what they really need or care about. Take care to askquestions that are open and follow what’s on the mind of each disputant, notwhat’s on yours. Questions that Drive Questions that Ride (that are driven by what is on (that follow what is on the your mind as the listener) disputant’s mind) You must have really resented How did that affect you? that right? After you gave her instructions, What happened next? did you follow up? Driving tends to Riding tends to  Provoke defensive reactions,  Help the person explore what’s  Shut down communication really important to them  Make the person feel their  Make them feel listened to ideas are not important(5) Move toward Problem solvingInvite the disputants’ ideas about how they would like to solve the problem (Whatif… What do you suggest? What do you think is a fair solution?). If a quick orinterim solution is required, you may offer some suggestions or make a decision. Reflective Listening Techniques
  • 11. 11 Technique Purpose How to Do This • Repeat the speaker’sAcknowledging Information Restating Key Points 1. To show that you’re listening "So youve been trying to and understand the key points or get this problem resolved speaker’s key points paraphrase in your for several weeks.” 2. To check your meaning and own words “You find the process interpretation too complicated. Is that right?” Reflecting Feelings 1. To show that you • Identify the speaker’s “You seem upset understand how the other emotions about…” person feels • It is often helpful to “You’re really frustrated 2. To help the other person include the reason at the length of time this consider his/her own why the speaker process is taking.” feelings after hearing them feels this way, to expressed by someone else avoid sounding “You were embarrassed when he made that patronizing comment in front of everybody. Is that right?” Reflecting Values and 1. To acknowledge the • Identify the speaker’s Positive Intentions speaker’s values and how values, positive “Being treated fairly is they affect the conflict intentions or positive important to you.” 2. To recognize the speaker’s efforts “You raised your voice to positive intentions and get her attention. Is that efforts right?” “So you’ve done everything you can think of to resolve this.” • Inviting Information Encouraging 1. To convey interest and Be attentive connectedness • Minimize distractions 2. To give space to the • Be aware of your speaker body language 3. To encourage the speaker to • Pause & allow for keep talking silence • Self monitor before speaking Clarifying Questions 1. To clarify what is said • Ask open-ended “Can you say more 2. To get more information questions about that?” 3. To help the speaker be • Ask questions that "What happens concrete & specific follow the speaker’s when….?" thoughts "What is it that she’s doing that bothers you?"
  • 12. 12Reflective Listening Checklist(Observer: Record in the relevant box examples of skills used by the listener you observe)Encouraging• encouraging body language• allow for silence• invitations to say moreClarifying Questions• ask open-ended questions thatencourage the speaker to talk• ask questions that follow thespeaker’s thoughtsRestating Key Points• briefly state speakers main points• encourage speaker to correct youReflecting Feelings• identify speakers emotions• encourage speaker to correct youReflecting Values & PositiveIntentions• acknowledge speakers values, positive intentions and efforts
  • 13. 13 Communication BlockersThe following approaches tend to discourage people from telling you about their feelings,experiences, values, needs and interests. We are not saying these approaches arenever appropriate; for instance, in some situations it may be helpful to reassuresomeone or give them advice. Before doing so, however, it is good to ask yourself if youhave really taken the time to hear the person out and acknowledge their interests.COMMUNICATION BLOCKER EXAMPLEAdvising “What you should do is…”Analysing / Diagnosing “The problem as I see it is…” “you’re only worried about this because you are an uptight kind of person’Blaming “This would never have happened if you hadn’t…” ‘you always’ ‘you never’Cross-Examining Fast paced, close-ended questions eg ‘what did you do that for’ but not really askingDiverting “What she did is not the issue. What about when …?”Judging/Evaluating “What you’re doing wrong is…” “The only good thing about this is…”Using Non-Verbal Blockers Negative body language: crossed arms, frowning Negative noises: huffing, sighing, tsking Distracting movements: pacing, tapping, leg-shakingReassuring/Minimizing “Don’t worry, it’s no big deal.” “That’s just how Bob is.”Denying other people’s feelings ‘You shouldn’t feel like that’Using ‘BUT’ instead of “AND” ‘I know that’s what you think, BUT’ (remember: Never put a “BUT” in the face of an angry person!)Defending the other ‘I know why she acts like that, it’s because, and she’s just trying to…’Being philosophical ‘There’s nothing you can do about this anyway, it’ll never change’’
  • 14. 14 Quick Intervention Checklist Get the attention of each disputant Separate them if necessary Tell them you are going to listen to them one at a time Use Reflective Listening Techniques to de-escalate each person & explore their interests • Restating Key Points/Summarizing/ Paraphrasing • Reflecting Feelings • Reflecting Values • Encouraging • Clarifying: Asking questions that “ride” Problem-solve Choose one of the following approaches, based on your assessment of the situation: • Involve the disputants in solving the problem. If necessary, defer problem-solving to a later time. Use reflective listening to help disputants understand each other & communicate what is important to them. • Suggest possible solutions and ask disputants for their agreement. If necessary, find a more satisfactory solution at a later time using reflective listening and an interest-based approach. • Make a decision on the spot. Meet with the disputants later and use reflective listening and an interest-based approach to find a longer-term solution that they will “buy into”.
  • 15. 15 Quick Intervention Model Mediation principles applied to resolve a conflict “on the spot”1) Get the attention of the disputants/separate them if necessary• Get the attention of the disputants: make sure they are looking at you and have stopped what they were doing.• Normalize conflict and differences of opinion – these are to be expected, not judged. Conflict is an opportunity for greater understanding.2) Tell them that you are going to listen to them one at a time• Ask for their co-operation so that you can hear each person’s concerns, e.g., “I want to hear from each of you. This will work best if I get to hear from each of you without interruption. Can you agree to that?”• If someone interrupts, remind them that you need them to wait and reassure them that they will have their turn soon, e.g, “Just a minute – I’ll be able to hear what’s on your mind very soon. Anne, please continue. . .”3) Use reflective listening techniques • This is important a) to defuse the situation, b) to make it clear that to each person that you have heard the underlying reasons for their anger/position, and understand their needs/interests, and c) to give each person a better chance of hearing the other person’s needs/interests, since they will hear the other person talking and will also hear your restatement. • Make sure to acknowledge values and needs, e.g., “It’s important to you that time limits be respected; and right now you want to use the computer because you need to . . .” It is easier for each person to consider the other person’s needs if they know that their values and needs are recognized. Acknowledging needs will set the stage for effective problem-solving. • Acknowledge positive intentions and efforts, as well as how they’ve been affected by the problem.
  • 16. 16 • Within your time limits, allow as many short turns for each person as you need in order to a) defuse the situation adequately, and b) understand the situation adequately. • It is essential to restate/summarize/paraphrase as you are ending someone’s turn. • You may want to coach disputants to speak in terms that the other person can hear, perhaps ask them to summarize what the other person is saying4) Problem-solve• Start by summarizing the needs/interests of both people and by stating that the goal is a resolution that meets both sets of needs, e.g., “This is the situation: Anne needs time to do X and needs a way that she can be sure of Y, and Bernard needs timely information about Z , assistance in A, and to clarify what should happen when B occurs. Let’s try to find a resolution that will meet those needs as much as possible.”Then choose one of the following three approaches, depending on yourassessment of the situation: • Involve them in solving the problem. Get their ideas, e.g., “What can you suggest that would meet both your needs?” If one objects to a suggestion made by the other, encourage them to generate more ideas before evaluating them, e.g., “Let’s get a number of ideas out before we talk about deciding on something.” If one person seems to expect the other person simply to change, try asking “What can you think of that you can do to help resolve the situation?” When they have agreed, thank them for working out a resolution. This method has the advantages of modeling good listening and problem- solving skills and getting them to feel more committed to the resolution, more than if the resolution came from an outside authority (the manager). It also increases the chances of more comfortable interaction the next time they meet because they have shaped the resolution together. Depending on the situation, though, this approach may take more time to work through. • Suggest a possible solution. Suggest possible solutions that you feel will meet their needs reasonably well, and ask them if they would agree to it, e.g., “Would you, Anne, be willing for Bernard do X, then you can do Y – would that meet your needs? And Bernard, would that work for you?” When you reach a resolution they agree to, thank them for being willing to be flexible.
  • 17. 17 It may help, before you make your suggestion, to use an “I message”, since by deciding the issue you have entered the negotiation as additional negotiator, e.g., “Because of our time pressures, I would like to make a suggestion. Would you . . . [describe the suggestion] I’d like us to be able to discuss this at a time when we are not under pressure and I’m going to arrange that.” If necessary, find a more satisfactory solution at a later time using reflective listening techniques and an interest-based approach. • Make a decision. Tell them what you have decided, e.g., refer to a rule and say “therefore you will need to come back this afternoon if you want to use the computer longer today”. It may help also to acknowledge their reaction to this decision or the effect on them and to use an I message, since by deciding the issue you have entered the negotiation as additional negotiator, e.g., “You’re concerned about handling the extra work this creates. I wish it could be different, but, given the circumstances, we’re pretty limited in our choices.” You may need to make a decision if they are not able to come to a resolution of their own, even with your help. At a later time, you may want to consult disputants and use an interest-based approach to find a longer-term solution that they will “buy into.”5) Conclude by • affirming each person for engaging in the process or making efforts to improve the situation, • noting any positive outcomes of the intervention, and • discussing follow-up or next steps (if necessary).Follow-upWhen a conflict has been dealt with “on the spot”, observe what happensafterwards and consider whether a) it would be useful to provide a more relaxedmediation which could cover the situation in more depth and in which they couldconsider additional and possibly more far-reaching alternatives for a long-termresolution, or whether b) it would be helpful to deal in a different way with thecircumstances leading to the conflict.
  • 18. 18Sample Conflict Scenarios1. You’re walking down the hall and you overhear the following: Manager to a staff person: “Youre always late! This is the last time Im going to warn you about it. If you cant get to work on time, dont bother showing up at all!” Staff person: “I told you that I have child care responsibilities. You’re heartless and unfair!2. At a board meeting, a director says to the president, “You’re hoarding all of the information. There’s no transparency around here!” The president replies by saying, “On the contrary, the problem is that you don’t bother taking the time to read the dockets, so you come to our meetings totally unprepared!”.3. A staff person has requested a meeting with you and her manager to discuss a poor performance review. At the meeting, the staff says to her manager, “This review is completely unjustified. You’re just trying to get rid of me!” In response, the manager says, “You’re always whining and complaining about what I do! This is just the latest example.”4. Other________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • 19. 19NOTES
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