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  Dealing With Conflict? (Part 2 Mediation)
Two moderators on my team are having personality clashes. Can you give me tips on how to help deal with their conflicts?

In last week's CommunityAnswers.com question and answer we explored the avenues for dealing with conflict between two individuals on a moderation team. In this week's answer we will deal with online mediation. Online mediation should only occur after other efforts to resolve the conflict have been attempted and have not provided a satisfactory outcome.

MEDIATION

Mediation is a course of action that involves a neutral third party who mediates between both sides in a conflict with the goal of achieving a form of agreement and closure.

It must be understood that mediation or any other form of conflict resolution does not necessarily equate to a nice ending for all concerned. Often the meeting of all needs and wants is impractical or not viable for other reasons. Mediation DOES mean however that the process used to resolve a conflict matches the conflict itself and that a mutual conclusion is reached which both parties can adhere to. It is important to stress to the parties in conflict that one of the key rewards of the mediation is an end to the conflict itself. Other rewards may be forthcoming but cannot be guaranteed.

CORE ELEMENTS OF MEDIATION

In order for the mediation to be successful the following key elements must be recognized and established:

1. Setting the stage or atmosphere for resolutions - It is important that the atmosphere or setting where the resolution process will take place is as comfortable and as neutral as possible and that both parties are willing to try and resolve the issues at hand.

2. Clarifying both parties perceptions of the conflict - Get to the heart of the conflict and avoid any side issues by asking and concentrating on key questions: What created the conflict? When did the conflict start? What has been done to resolve it? Why do you feel the way you do?

3. Moving forward and away from the negative - Once the heart of the conflict has been discovered and understood, the next step is moving away from the negative and developing positive stepping-stones for long-term resolution. It is important that each party has a clear understanding that in order to move forward they must not dwell on past issues that have been brought to light. Each party should learn from those past issues so as to not recreate them.

4. Reaching a beneficial mutual agreement - In order to do that both parties must find options of resolution that they can both agree upon. It is best to list all options from both parties and look for the commonalities from each list.

SETTING GUIDELINES FOR MEDIATION

Prior to the commencement of any online meditation it is important that the parties involved understand the guidelines of the mediation. If necessary, you may need to reiterate these guidelines throughout the course of mediation. The delivery of guidelines will assist in setting the stage or atmosphere of the mediation.

1) When one party is speaking the other must not interrupt. Each party will be given time for comments/rebuttal. Establish a protocol to enforce this.

2) There will be no judgments or personal attacks cast by either party during the mediation.

3) Discussion will pertain to the issues at hand and not side issues.

4) Each party agrees that by taking part in the mediation process that they both commit to reaching a mutual agreement/solutions around the issue(s).

MEDIATION TIPS

1) State the guidelines and ask both parties to signify that they agree and understand them.

2) Give each party the opportunity to explain their side of the conflict. It may help to instruct them that using "I" statements helps, i.e. "I felt angry when you showed up late for your shift." At this stage of mediation it may be helpful as facilitator to ask both parties what, in their opinion, created the conflict.

3) List all conflicts and reiterate them to both parties.

4) Go point by point through the issues of conflict and ask parties to assist in developing a way forward that is mutually agreed upon.

5) Find areas where compromises and negotiations can be found.

6) Utilize those areas as positive indicators for the parties themselves and for the mediation process as a whole.

7) Reinforce the progress of the mediation through milestones which have been achieved.

8) Be realistic and communicative at all times.

We do hope this helps to resolve issues/conflicts. Should you need further assistance with conflict resolution, please do not hesitate to contact CommunityAnswers.com (questions@communityanswers.com) for a list of conflict resolution providers.

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
http://communityanswers.com
http://cornerways.com
http://cwlive.com
 
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