Why Mediation is the Most Powerful Tool for Resolving Conflict
When faced with conflict, the average person is prone to one of a few emotionally-grounded reactions: ignore it and move on, dig in and self-preserve, or decide it’s time to move out from the situation. Why? Conflict is uncomfortable, and it’s normal to want it to go away or to get to the other side of it as soon as possible.
But — just moving past conflict is not the same as resolving it.
For a lasting, mutually acceptable solution, the only way out is through. And that’s where mediation comes into play.
Naturally, the prospect of hiring a mediator may be just as daunting as the conflict itself. After all, it’s bringing in a third party, and the situation is likely too complicated as it is, right? Thankfully, mediation is actually designed to simplify the process, and a mediator isn’t really an additional party. Instead, a professional mediator emboldens all parties with the tools to listen, communicate, and solve the issue(s) themselves.
Ultimately, you may still be choosing between moving on and moving out — and that’s okay. The difference is that a mediator helps you fully consider — not necessarily decide — which route is the best one, and offers thought partnership in coming up with solutions between the two extremes that you might not have considered otherwise.
Read on to learn some of the most important qualities only a mediator can bring to the table. If any are missing from your ‘table,’ consider learning more about how ONE EIGHTY can support you in working through conflict.
As an involved party, you’re — well — involved — meaning your perspective is limited to your experience within the conflict. That can be a good thing, of course, but it’s all in the way that perspective is applied to resolution.
A mediator is able to view conflict with an impartial lens. From their perspective, the conflict is the main priority, and they’re able to analyze it without the distractions of self-interest and emotionality. Just as you’re able to more easily identify conflict solutions you’re not part of (think: family, friends, TV shows or movies), mediation draws out the core issues to focus on first. After this stage, involved parties can better express their experience and generate ideas for solutions because they’re now operating within a more clearly defined framework.
Whereas impartiality is more a matter of personal distance than personality, a professional mediator is also able to use their listening skills, knowledge, and experience to help parties collaborate and articulate multiple solutions.
Solution Idea Generation
Speaking of solutions…
Similarly, mediation identifies more than one means of resolving conflict.
Regardless of your idea of a fair result — however biased it may be — a mediator helps bring out all ideas to give each one the communication and consideration it deserves. Throughout this process, you may discover options you didn’t even realize were options as well as build understanding of what constitutes a mutually acceptable solution for all sides. (Bonus: You might even learn something about the other person through the process.)
Relieving Tension and Resentment
For many, conflict is uncomfortable (like, really uncomfortable). For a mediator, conflict simply is. While it’s easy and understandable to feel resentment toward the company, person, or group of people you’re in conflict with, mediation helps you to voice your feelings tactfully and productively. This is done for all sides so that regardless of the eventual outcome — even if it’s not exactly what you envisioned — you can understand how you got there and know that you were involved in the decision process. And because you get there together, you have a greater chance of preserving the relationship and sustaining the solution(s).
Energy, Time, and Monetary Savings
The simplest reason mediation is the most powerful tool in resolving conflict? It usually costs less time, money, and headache than conflicts that escalate to legal action. In fact, it costs less time and money even than non-solutions — like just ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away.
Even hard-to-identify conflict — like lingering resentment between employees — can be costly. Hiring a replacement for someone who quits costs more than just an additional salary — especially when you consider training time, declining morale, and the ripple effect on the team.
Remember, in- and outside of a professional setting, happiness is good business.
As you might imagine, learning to listen, compromise and find mutually acceptable solutions to resolve a conflict means you can use those skills in the future. Mediators help you and all involved to stick to a solution, too, by drawing up an agreement and laying individual commitments to upholding it.
Beyond this, mediation just plain works. It helps to eliminate resentment in family matters, prevent employee turnover, and empower individuals to be more proactive in addressing matters before they get worse.
It’s powerful because it promotes understanding, collaboration, communication, and informed decision mankind — and doesn’t that sound better than hoping the conflict disappears or arguing your way through it?