Step 1: The Face-to-Face Meeting
• Each party states their intentions / desired outcomes for the meeting
• Each party acknowledges the importance of their working relationship with each other as well as the importance of reaching resolution
Step 2 Defining Needs
• Party 1 defines the problem and the impact it is having on him/her
• Party 2 summarizes what he/she heard
• Party 2 defines the problem and the impact it is having on him/her
• Party 1 summarizes what he/she heard
• Party 1 describes what he/she needs from the other to correct the problem…and seeks agreement from Party 2
• Party 2 describes what he/she needs from the other to correct the problem…and seeks agreement from Party 1
Step 3 Additional Issues
• Both parties have an opportunity to raise any additional issues/concerns (following the format above)
Step 4: Summary & Wrap-Up
• Once all problems, concerns, and conflicting issues have been discussed and resolved, both parties summarize together what agreements were made
• Both parties identify an agreed upon process to address and resolve any future conflicts/disagreements between each other
• Both parties commit to a check-in time/date in the future to revisit the agreements and make any needed adjustments
This format gives you an idea how the flow of the mediation should go. And all parts are essential elements, from the opening comments to setting a future check-in time between parties.
Some Final Thoughts
Probably the biggest reason why I’ve witnesses so many successful conflict mediations in my career is due in part to the amount of preparation that each party has been willing to put into the process. It makes my job a lot easier too because parties come to the table goal-focused towards resolution. All I have to do is provide some gentle guidance along the way.
I guess it comes down to this: If you value the relationship with the person you’re in conflict with, then it’s worth putting in a little extra time in the preparation phase before talking out the problem. It will not only benefit you and the other person’s relationship in the long-run, but you’ll also be role modeling to others what effective conflict resolution looks like. And isn’t that how it should be?