Conflict Resolution and Mediation
The conflict that comes out between Stephen Rogers and Damon Clause is that of goal differences and the difference regarding the authority. Damon and Stephen had been working in a harmonious environment. They both knew their role within their enterprise and this resulted in the growth of the firm. When both parties accepted to hire an extra person to work as an office manager, it was apparent that the work was overwhelming and therefore, there was a need to hire an extra force.
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However, the dispute that arises shows that there was no full consultation when assigning the new employee her role. It appears that there was a form of insubordination in the process of assigning this new employee her role in the firm. This is because the nature of conflict shows that Damon feels that Alina has taken up his role in the firm. When he says that Alina has taken strategic roles within the firm, Damon demonstrates that Alina is doing tasks that Damon feels should be done by the two owners. The decision that Damon has made over this issue further points to some deeper issues that might not have been resolved as soon as they arose.
Damon has already made a decision that Alina should be fired for undertaking duties that are not within her jurisdiction. What this demonstrates is that Damon is not comfortable with the presence of Alina because he feels that Alina subordinates him. The response from Stephen shows that there might be a serious conflict between the two that may lead to the fallout between the two individuals.
This may be serious jeopardy to a firm which is otherwise performing very well within the past few years. Stephen does not think that Alina is overstepping her mandate in any way. Stephen’s response shows that he is very comfortable with Alina in the firm and that her work is satisfactory. There must be a way through which the two parties can resolve their differences to ensure that the eminent fall of the firm is avoided. This study focuses on ways through which the two parties can resolve their disputes in a win-win scenario.
Mediation and Arbitration
Mediation may be the best way through which the two entrepreneurs can resolve their disputes. Arbitration refers to a process of resolving disputes where the two conflicting parties choose an unbiased person to resolve the controversy, and they agree in advance to agree with the decision that will be made by the arbitrator. Mediation refers to a process where the conflicting parties are helped to resolve their disputes by an impartial person, who is known as a mediator (Wallensteen, 2007). The two parties must be willing to participate in this mediation process, and they should be comfortable with the person who is standing in as the mediator.
The mediation will be important because both sides will have an opportunity to express their mind over the issue at hand. Damon will be able to explain why he feels that Alina has overstepped her mandate. It will also be important that Damon explains why he recommends a summary dismissal for Alina instead of a decision to instruct her to work within her mandate. This will allow Stephen to listen to the views given by Damon over the tasks performed by Alina. Stephen will also have the opportunity to give his view about the tasks that are performed by Alina and how relevant they are as per her employment contract. This way, Damon will be able to understand why Stephen thinks that Alina is working within her mandate.
Types of Conflict
Several conflicts always arise at every given stage in the life of a person. In this case, several conflicts arise. The first type of conflict that arises, in this case, is man versus man. Damon has a conflict with Stephen over the employment status of Alina. The two are not in agreement on the specific role that Alina should be playing. Another conflict that arises, in this case, is man versus society. Damon, Stephen, and Alina form the society within this firm. Damon seems not to agree with the other two members of this society. Stephen is comfortable with Alina and the two get along well. On the other hand, Alina may not be comfortable with Damon.
Types of Communication Strategies and Listening Skills
When mediating between two conflicting parties, it is always important to ensure that there are good communication skills that will ensure that the main aim of resolving the conflict is achieved. The type of communication that the arbitrator uses must be reconciliatory. The two parties must also embrace communication strategies and listening skills that will allow them to articulate their views, and listen to other decisions. This way, it will be possible to achieve the desired result. The following are some of the strategies that all the parties involved in the mediation should take into consideration.
- Making communication positive, specific, and clear. Every communicator should strike a positive tone, always ensuring that he or she is open to any form of correction if there is a need for this. They should be clear in their communications, and specific. They should also speak out all the facts that were leading to their previous stand-points that were bringing the dispute.
- Each of the concerned individuals should recognize the fact that each individual would be seeing things from different angles. What individual A may consider as being vital may not be viewed as such by another individual. Embracing this fact will enable the parties to understand the reason why the other made a decision that conflicted with his.
- Being honest and open on one’s feelings, and accepting others’ feelings. One should not hide any detail that might have influenced his or her decision that resulted in disputes. This way, it will be easy to understand the chronological events that could have resulted in the decision that was disputed. Conversely, this individual should be ready to understand and accept the feelings of the other party (Cheldelin, Druckman, & Fast, 2008).
- Asking questions and being ready to answer questions on various issues to enhance clarity. What is obvious to one individual may not be obvious to the other. It is, therefore, very important that each individual seek thorough information on any issue that may not be clear to him or her. The other party should receive this positively and respond to the questions as positively as can be possible.
- Learning to listen very actively, and to allow the mentee time to talk without any form of interruption. Each of the parties should express some form of restraint, and ensure that they allow the mentee time to express his views without interruptions.
- Make eye contact with the speaker. This helps in developing or reconstructing the trust which might have been lost between the two conflicting parties. It also shows that there are interests and a direct attempt to understand the opinion of the speaker.
- Both parties must be willing to take responsibility when it is due, and flexible enough to accept that some facts may be making more sense than what their opinions could be. This way, it becomes easy to reach a compromise in the debate.
Opening Statement Process
According to Bar-Siman-Tov (2003), opening statements in mediation is always very important. This scholar says that opening statements are always determinants of whether or not the process will be successful. The tone that such statements would carry will always dictate the general tone of the entire process. In mediation, there will be two parties with a differing opinion about a given fact. As this scholar notes, there will be tension between both parties.
The main aim of the mediation process is to come up with a win-win approach where all the concerned individuals will feel that they are satisfied with the resolutions of the process. The opening statement should, therefore, be able to reflect this. It should not escalate the already existing tension because if it does, then the whole meaning of this process will be lost.
Opening statements should always strive to defuse tension between the two parties. According to Druckman (2006), this statement can take any form, as long as it will eliminate, if not then minimize the existing tension between the two parties. This scholar says that the best way to do this is by bringing in a topic that may not have a direct relation to the issue at hand, but is popular with the two. The topic should be carefully chosen to ensure that the two parties have the same opinion about the topic. The aim of this is to ensure that when the debate begins, the two parties shall have realized that they can share their opinion.
The statement will also help sway the thought of the parties from the issue at hand, at least for a while before the negotiations start. This way, it will be possible to make the two parties realize that there is more than brings them together that what draws them apart. In this case of Damon and Stephen, another approach that can be taken in the opening statement can be the common goal shared between the two that made them form a partnership to start this organization.
The mediator can start by narrating a success story of partners who achieved greatness due to their ability to stick together. Steve Worzac and Steve Jobs are good examples of partners who placed the interest of their business above personal interests, and the result in the multi-million company called Apple (Druckman & Stern, 2000). This will make their focus go beyond the little conflict that is currently before them as they try to imagine how successful they can be if they are to retain their focus. This will help them consider the current issue as minor, and as such, may want to find a way that will bring them together so that they can achieve greatness.
Care should be taken when this approach is taken. The mediator should ensure that the tone does not appear to paint one of the two parties as being non-committal towards achieving this goal. The approach is just to ensure that the parties will consider the conflict too minor to warrant their fall-off. This will help in making it easy for the mediator to bring this conflict to a resolution. The two will be willing to make a sacrifice for the benefit of their business. They will make a concerted effort to ensure that they refrain from bringing in their interests into this project.
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The Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and the Mediation Process
The process of mediation is a very delicate process that needs a lot of attention, intelligence, and some sense of wisdom. In this process, two individuals have conflicting ideas. The mediator is offered an opportunity to bring the two conflicting parties together. It is upon this mediator to use his intelligence to ensure that the two parties can listen to each other and that a solution will finally be found. Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in the mediation process.
Eunson (2012) defines emotional intelligence as the ability to identify, evaluate, and then control the emotions of a group, another individual, or oneself. In this case, the emotional intelligence of the mediator will be important in ensuring that the process is successful. The mediator must have the capacity to identify the emotions of the two parties involved in the conflict. In most cases, emotion can be anger or resentment.
The mediator should then move with speed to assess the identified emotions. Either of the two parties may be having a greater degree of anger or resentment towards the other. By conducting this assessment, the mediator will be aware of the approach that the mediation should take. When the emotions of the two parties are determined, it would be easy to determine the opening statement. The mediator will be aware of some of the statements that may annoy either or both parties, and consequently, he or she shall avoid them. Understanding the emotions of an individual can be done on many fronts.
The first front is always to determine the tone of voice of the parties, especially when an opportunity arises for them to speak directly to the other. The mediator can even detect this when one of the parties talks about the other party in its absence. Then the facial expressions can help determine the level of emotion that one party has towards the other. The level of annoyance can easily be read in the face and tone of the speaker. Resentment can also be read in a tone of voice, facial expressions, and other bodily languages.
After the identification and assessment, the next step will be to control this emotion. There are several approaches through which this emotion can be controlled. According to Wharam (2009), controlling the emotion of the parties involved in a conflict is very important. It will also help dictate the introductory statement that the mediator shall use. It would be irrational for the mediator to bring in a joke as a way of defusing tension in a case where the involved parties are so annoyed that they cannot see eye to eye. The two parties will consider the mediator a joker who does not make their case with the seriousness with which it deserves.
When the two parties develop this mindset at the onset of the debate, the debate shall lose its focus because the mediator will be unable to take control of this process. The two parties will develop some form of resistance to the message that the mediator has for them, and this will make them develop hard lines on their opinions. The mediator must, therefore, be able to control the emotions of the parties in a way that will not only defuse the tension but also make the parties develop trust and respect for him. This would be the first step towards achieving the desired result from the mediation
The Importance of being culturally sensitive in a Mediation Process
The process of mediation should consider various factors. One of the most important factors that at times are easily ignored is culture. Cultural sensitivity is very important because it helps in the definition of a person. Some individuals cannot be swayed away from cultural beliefs. Some do not consider cultural beliefs as factors that can dictate their way of life. A mediator should, therefore, consider cultural sensitivity as one of the factors that will determine the opinion of the parties. The mediator should first start by considering the possibility of cultural sensitivity being part of the conflict. If it is, then the solution should come from that front. If it is not, then the consideration should be on how it might be a factor in finding, or failing to find a solution to the conflict.
Stephen and Damon must find a solution to their conflict. They have a business whose success is at a stake, and therefore they must agree on how to end the disagreement. As Blell (2011) says, both parties should stop and think for a while, that they might be wrong at some point in making their decision. Alina is their employee, and therefore, the two should be able to control her. If either of the two parties feels that she is overstepping her mandate, then he should have the liberty of instructing her not to do that in the future. The two parties agreed that Alina has a limit beyond which her jurisdiction should not surpass.
They also agreed that Damon might have overreacted by recommending her sacking other than issuing new assignments. The two agreed that Alina shall continue working within the firm, but only on the assigned duties. Alina must also realize that she has two bosses whom she must respect and report to as might be necessary. The two agreed that Alina will not act in any manner likely to suggest that she undermines either of her bosses or considers one to be senior to the other. It was also agreed that in the future, any little case will always be raised well in time to help solve it when it is still a minor conflict.
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