Conflict is an inevitable part of attending any organisation, and workplace dispute mediation is an excellent method of conflict diffusion. Whether your colleagues are sending you passive aggressive communications or your staff just can’t get along, there comes a time when professional support can be necessary.
While many issues can resolve themselves, often they do not. Using a professional arbitrator is beneficial as it is a flexible and informal way to deal with problems. It involves having a neutral third party help those involved reach some form of agreement or resolution. They do not judge or take sides, they simply assist all parties. The process is voluntary, making it a good alternative to more formal proceedings.
Workplace dispute mediation is also highly effective at resolving conflict. Here are some tips for dealing with heat in the office.
Get started early
The earlier you address an issue, the better. Resentments can breed over time, making things worse. If you have noticed a conflict in the office or have had one of your employees come to you about it, bring up the option of workplace dispute mediation as soon as you can. The office will thank you for it!
Encourage openness and curiosity
In order to reach a resolution, all parties involved must feel respected, heard and understood. Naturally, this occurs when each party is willing to see things from the other person’s perspective. Being curious about the other parties and their experiences, and being willing to inquire about them, can help everyone come to an agreement down the track. Encouraging each party to use active listening skills will be beneficial.
Encourage all involved in workplace dispute mediation to avoid being critical of one another. While this can be a difficult habit to stop, it is vital that when dealing with a conflict that people avoid it. Remind them that when we are critical of others, it is often more about us than it is about them – it is our thoughts and emotional reactions that are escalating things. Being mindful and calm can help prevent criticism.
Get a holistic picture
Asking open-ended questions is an excellent way to get the most information out of people, and to ensure that every party gets a chance to speak. Before engaging in workplace dispute mediation you might want to have a small meeting in order to better understand the situation. You can do this by asking each party to share their version of what happened, and take notes. Try to focus on what each story shares in common as well as any inconsistencies. By getting a fuller context you can better understand the situation and what needs to be done to reach a resolution. Of course, the arbitrator will do this in the session, too.
Set goals and problem solve
It is vital to establish the outcomes each party wants to achieve before you can start to problem solve using workplace dispute mediation. After each party has shared their side of the story, have a brainstorm together as to what potential outcomes can arise from this point. Focus not only on short-term outcomes but long-term ones, as well as how you can prevent similar issues from reoccurring later on. This could include something like making a written (and signed) agreement, and/or providing a safe outlet for staff to share their feelings during meetings or some other time. You will then need to use workplace dispute mediation and problem solve to find solutions, which will require openness, patience and creativity. Again, an arbitrator can help with this process.