I became a mediator because the human oriented approach to resolving conflict and disputes really felt right. People and relationships are very important to me in everything I do. So let’s explore the human aspects that underpin mediation.
Almost 2000 years ago Marcus Aurelius wrote:
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Our education and workplace experience tends to lead us to think in terms of facts and the truth. It is this that often causes conflict and disputes. It is helpful for all of us to remember Marcus Aurelius’ words and that there is always more than one way.
As a mediator I work with people to explore opinions and perspectives. Through this we can find common ground and a way forward that is acceptable to the people involved in conflict.
Human principles in mediation
- It is voluntary; every person involved in mediation has agreed to take part.
- Trust sits at the heart of mediation. The process is confidential and builds trust between all of the people involved.
- People come first. Mediation is flexible to suit the people who are involved.
- The people involved make all the decisions and agreements. No-one else imposes decisions or agreements.
We will now look at two areas of mediation in more detail to explore the human principles involved.
Mediation in the workplace
When conflict arises in the workplace it can have far reaching consequences. When people are in conflict then often colleagues, teams and sometimes the whole organisation can be adversely affected. As a consequence, productivity is reduced and progress is slow. It makes sense then, on many levels, to sort out the problem.
Involving a mediator to work with the people involved in a conflict makes good sense when they are struggling to resolve it themselves. Talking and exploring the issues together in flexible and creative ways allows everyone involved to identify common ground and options. The mediator remains neutral throughout the process and treats each person involved equally. This is particularly important where the conflict is between people at different levels within an organisation.
Each person involved in the mediation process feels listened to and taken seriously. By agreeing the resolution of the conflict themselves they own the steps needed to make it work. Each person develops a greater understanding of the views and beliefs of others involved in getting to an agreed way forward. So after the mediation, relationships are stronger.
Taking this human approach to solving a problem between people means the outcome is much more likely to be a positive permanent change. This has benefits for the people involved and their colleagues, teams and the organisation.
Support for good mental health at work has been something that many employers have been working on. Using a mediator to support your employees to resolve challenging disputes is an excellent step in supporting good mental health at work.
Sometimes a relationship between an employee and employer cannot continue. In this circumstance everyone deserves to walk away with dignity and intact self-respect. This is not always an easy task and using a mediator to work with the people involved can be very helpful.
The people focussed approach of mediation keeps the human aspects of the situation in the forefront. Each person is listened to and the mediator works hard to map the route through to an agreement that is accepted by all. The process used is flexible to meet the needs of the situation. So for example, people may work together in the same room or it may be better for people to work separately. In each case the mediator will support all involved equally and remain neutral.
Reaching an agreement in this way allows the people involved to walk away with dignity and intact self-respect.
Other mediation situations
There are many different types of conflict and disputes where mediation can help. In every case the dispute or conflict has arisen between people. This is true whether it is a medical negligence case or a commercial dispute between companies. The effective resolution of conflict between people comes from taking a human approach. This is certainly true for cases where the alternative to mediation would be legal action. Whilst it is not true to state that mediation would produce a win-win outcome it is more likely that the people involved will feel that a fair outcome has been achieved. This is not always the result after a decision in legal proceedings.
The CEDR mediation survey indicates that there are over 10,000 civil and commercial mediation cases in the UK each year. Mediation is still relatively new and there is potential to resolve many more cases using this human focussed approach.
For all of us seeking and expressing opinions and perspectives rather than facts and truths in our conversations both at work and in life generally may just mean that there are fewer conflicts.
I’d love to hear what you think so please get in touch.