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10 Steps to Successful Mediation
Could you use a little help with your conflict solution strategy? Check out these helpful tips from Hillsboro Mediation.
Some of us are conflict avoiders which doesn’t allow much room for change or for skillfully coming up with a possible solution for the dispute. However, a little bit of strategizing can go a long way towards a successful outcome.
Here are some steps to try:
Talk directly to the other party. The Hillsboro Mediation Program receives many calls from people who don’t like something their neighbor is doing and want things to change, but they’ve never taken the time to speak to their neighbor about it. How would the neighbor know what the issue is if they’ve never been informed? It is important to give the other party in the situation the opportunity to know what is wrong and be able to voice their perspective. Together, you may be able to solve the problem right there by giving them a chance to act on it.
Choose a good time to talk. Timing is everything. If your neighbor is in the car heading out to an appointment or work, that isn’t the best time to bring up a problem. Instead, ask when it would be a good time to talk. Be flexible with your schedule to allow them to fit the conversation into their schedule without feeling pressured.
Plan ahead what you might say. Spend some time determining what you would like your neighbor to know about the situation. When we go into conversations without focusing on the important issues, emotions take over and the interaction can deteriorate rapidly.
Don’t blame or accuse the other party. Blaming and accusations almost always shut down any meaningful progress to be made in a conflict. Without knowing the facts and details of the other side, you may not have enough information as to who’s responsible or what really happened. If you act in a way that makes the other party feel like they need to defend themselves, it is unlikely you will reach a solution. No one likes to be attacked, especially when it appears to be unprovoked.
Give information as best you can. Provide fact-based details about the situation. Avoid opinions and emotion-based statements.
Listen non-judgmentally. Judgements can limit any talk of solutions, as the other party may feel you’ve already made decisions about the situation of which they’ve not been a part of. It is important to remain open-minded because there is always another side to the story. With only your perspective to work with, you don’t have enough information to make any judgments.
Show that you are listening. Focus on the other party. Use reflective statements such as, “What I just heard you say is…”and then ask them if you’re understanding it correctly. Don’t talk over them. Ask them to repeat what they said if you don’t understand at first. Listening is a critical part of understanding what is happening in a conflict.
Talk it all through. Make sure you cover all the issues as you see them. Allow the other party to do the same. If you don’t deal with all aspects of the conflict, it may never completely heal.
Work on a solution together. A workable solution has to involve both of you. Each side may need different things from the situation. The possibilities are endless. Use your creativity!
Follow through on the agreed upon solution. Be honest about what you can do to help solve the conflict. In crafting the agreement, add check in dates to talk to each other to make sure you are getting it right as you go along. There may be bumps on the journey, but try to stay on track and make sure you follow through on what you agreed to do. If you need to change what you agreed to, contact your neighbor to renegotiate that point. Don’t just ignore it or drop what you were supposed to do. The conflict will only continue.
While these points are written with a neighbor dispute in mind, the steps can be used in any type of conflict.
If you find you need additional help, be sure to contact us at Hillsboro Mediation Program for assistance, Mediation@Hillsboro-Oregon.gov or 503-615-6651. Our services are free! We offer mediation, conflict coaching, and community education in communication and conflict resolution.