Family Mediation Services: Conflict can create a positive.

Family Mediation Services
Conflict happens, fortunately we can choose how it affects us.

Family Mediation Services: Helping to find the light.

Family Mediation Services is a process that helps people in conflict to create a resolution based in shared ownership and responsibility.  Family Mediation is different from most other types of mediation.  Family Mediation involves emotion.  People are placed into conflict with others who care about them.  Or at least at some point in time, cared about them.  It’s not like a mediation involving a business contract or service contract.

Conflict styles

Generally, there are four negative ways people can approach conflict.  First people can deny or avoid the conflict.  While this may “smooth the waters” a little bit.  It does little or nothing to resolve the conflict.  In fact, it makes it worse by not addressing the real issue(s).  Second, people can use anger in order to blame, accuse or intimidate the other person.  They win, the other looses.  Again, the basic issue(s) is not really resolved.  It’s just that the other person has been defeated.  Third, similar to anger, some people can use power to address issues.  Much like anger, in this case there is a definite “winner and loser”.  While the people have been neatly categorized, the issue(s) are not addressed. Four, some people may choose to manipulate, appearing to be part of the situation, but in fact taking advantage of the situation.

All four of these styles to nothing to create a resolution.  In fact, each of these styles will extend and expand the conflict.  So, what to do?  I believe that fundamental strategy can be used successfully to address each of these styles.

A Positive Approach to Conflict Styles

Firstly, a couple fundamental beliefs about conflict and conflict resolution.

Successful resolutions are not about “getting a win”.  It may not even be about getting a “win/win”.  I prefer to look at it as a “gain”.  I do this because to me, a “win” implies an end, a finish.  While a “gain” implies a success, with room to grow and to change.  That flexibility is critical to any conflict.  Situations change, therefore, so should our resolutions.  Which brings me to a second fundamental belief.

Successful resolutions need to have a mutual benefit.  Conflicts are a result of shared disagreement, each with responsibility.  Resolutions need to have the same shared ownership and desire.  So, before working on solutions – work on establishing a mutual desire to resolve.  The process of coming to a resolution is more important the the actual resolution.

With that in mind; What are the best ways to resolve conflict(s)?  What are the best ways to address conflict styles? When entering into a mediation it is important to have an open-mind, positive intentions and an honest point of view.  An open-mind to listen to other people’s story.  A positive intention to actively work towards a mutual solution.  An honest attitude to work towards creating an environment of trust and respect.

These are the tools that can be used to create a mutually acceptable resolution.


Mediation Services: Rising Above the Conflict

Mediation Services

Mediation Services: Rising Above

“Taking the high road”, “Stand on the balcony”, there are many other common metaphors.  With mediation services, all these expressions have the same meaning.  In order to resolve conflicts, don’t get dragged down into the game of blaming, accusing, threatening or other common tactics of conflict.  These only cause resentment and increase levels of anger.  They do nothing to help resolve the issue(s).  In fact, they only serve to deepen and lengthen the conflict.  Effective mediation services helps to “take the high road”, “stand on the balcony”; to “rise above”.

Rising Above: Tips to help

Know yourself:

During many conflicts that I have mediated, there often is one party who is aggressive.  These people try to intimidate, bully or try to bait the other person into arguments.  Frequently, these arguments are “minor” and self-serving.  Become aware.  Identify when your “buttons are being pushed”.  Refuse to become engaged.  Change the topic to issues that are important to making resolution.  Ask yourself: “Are we arguing about something important, or just arguing?”

Learn to “flip” it:

The opposite of blaming is sharing.  The opposite of accusing is ownership.  The opposite of fear is hope.  Blaming, accusing and fear encourage downward spirals.  They offer no solution; they only prolong the conflict.  When you find yourself in this cycle, try to do the opposite; flip it.  Make statements that show you take responsibility for part of the conflict.  Think in terms of owning a resolution; “How can I fix this?”.  Develop a mindset of hope; “There is a way out of this.” “This does not have to end badly.”

Take a break:

When conversations become emotional; take a break.  This can be done using three steps.  First, tell the other person(s) that things are becoming too emotional. They are not helpful or productive.  Second, clearly explain why you feel this way.  Let people know what things are being said.  Third, state that you wish to take a break.  Say how long a break you want and that you will come back.  You will be sending a message that the issue(s) are important and that you wish to continue the conversation.

Find a neutral friend:

During stressful times find someone that you can talk to.  But not just anyone.  Find someone who is willing to just listen. Not offer opinions.  Not offer advise.  Just listen.  Take some time to “vent”, to express your negative feelings.  This can go a long ways for you to clarify your thoughts.  To reduce emotions.  To come back to conversations with a clear mind focused on solutions; not arguments.

Focus on the end:

What type of resolution will satisfy both parties?  Where is the middle ground?  What type of resolution will be workable for both parties?  The present situation is not working.  There must be some alternative that will work.  You can not expect to get everything that satisfies you.  You can not expect to get nothing that satisfies you.  Where in the middle can you meet.  What is the worst alternative to the agreement?  What is the best alternative to the agreement.

Rising Above:

I compare resolving conflicts to a dance.  Neither person works independently; they work and move together.  The idea is that together a dance is created. That dance is ongoing.  It can change to suit the music.  In the end, however, both parties contribute to the final performance.  It may not be exactly what each person imagined, but it works.  Don’t get caught up in the “footwork”, rise above the floor to see the entire dance.