Conflicts normally just involve two parties who are in a disagreement over their perceptions or having differences in attitudes and values. Trivial conflicts can be settled over a quick discussion but larger conflicts may require a mediator or an intervener. Mediation is a process wherein a third party gets in the way of the conflicting parties. Mediators act like facilitators in a session who guide the members in the process until an agreement is achieved.
Organizational conflicts are usually large and may require the help of conflict mediation as an approach to conflict resolution. Basically, as a communication facilitator, the conflict mediator does not make the decision but may provide and solicit ideas and suggest proposals.
If a conflict in your workplace is not settled through negotiation, it can still be resolved through mediation. A mediator should possess the necessary conflict resolution skills including the skill in mediating. Such ability can be applied before a conflict even develops through diplomacy, during the conflict process through peacemaking activities, and after a dispute is resolved to facilitate implementation of decisions.
The Process of Mediation
Despite not being able to manipulate the outcome of a conflict, mediation process is effective in gaining a resolution. A mediator must have the ability to make a healthy interaction out of an unproductive conflict. In order to do this, mediators help the individuals identify the facts and cause of the conflict. They also help out in the generation of ideas. They manifest good empathy skill and remain objective in performing their function. Mediators are leaders who have political skills and employ persuasion especially for individuals who have a tendency to be closed-minded on the situation.
It is a lot more effective to appoint mediators for a group conflict in your organization. Though the main task is to assist in the quick and efficient settlement of a dispute, another important function of the mediator is to help develop work relationships among conflicting parties, or help them learn how to deal with future conflicts.
Mediators should know which of the two purposes needs more emphasis to the individuals or the groups since sometimes, both parties may just need a settlement of dispute more than promoting good relationships. Mediation that is targeted on gaining a resolution is called problem-solving mediation; if it is focused on building relationships, it is termed as transformative mediation.
Staying Neutral and Unbiased
One of the essential characteristics of a mediator is the ability to stay neutral. Impartiality is said to be the proper conduct in mediation. Being able to show an objective stance helps in gaining the trust and respect of the involved parties and builds the credibility of the mediator
. Though commonly argued by organizations as to its effectiveness, neutrality in mediation is characterized by having no affiliation with either party, having no personal interest, and open-mindedness. In addition, staying neutral also means being indifferent to the welfare of the parties, not interested in the outcome, and not showing any concern with the impact of the conflict resolution.
The notion of the individuals on being unbiased may be quite vague and undefined. Nevertheless, the basic principle underlying the aspect of neutrality in mediation is that the mediator should not take sides but should focus more on the flow of the conflict process to reach a consensus.
Building Trust in Mediation
As a mediator, gaining the trust of the parties engaged in a conflict is very important to get the individuals to cooperate in resolving it quickly. If the level of trust is high, both parties are more open to sharing information with each other which can be essential in reaching an agreed solution.
The sources of trust of a mediator are his personal reputation and his behavior or performance in carrying out the role. A mediator who has a credible profile background easily gains trust from the parties involved. This is an advantage for experienced and skilled mediators. But even for beginners, trust can be achieved by just performing the role efficiently. In order to get the trust you need, mediate with fairness, dignity, and respect at all times. Show that you are staying outside the conflict by not taking sides as this is what the parties expect you to do.