DISCLAIMER: This post gives a general overview of types of conflict that might be appropriate for mediation. It is not legal advice, and I am not your attorney. If you require information or advice applied to your unique situation, please make an appointment to discuss it with an attorney in your jurisdiction.
In business, conflicts can arise at any time. Clients fail to pay on time or in full. Employees and vendors underperform or complain of various offenses. Accidents happen, and people get injured. Insiders and outsiders cause a variety of harms. Co-Owners disagree about strategy, spending, and work distribution. Risk managers, CEOs, and small business owners need to know when to seek the expertise of a mediator to resolve such disputes.
Conflict resolution is a nuanced process, and understanding the stages of conflict can be invaluable. Below are the three general stages of conflict you need to recognize. You will also see how a skilled mediator can assist at each stage.
Latent Conflicts: Unveiling Hidden Tensions
Latent conflicts often lurk beneath the surface, subtly affecting relationships and productivity. You might sense these tensions without fully grasping their scope. At this stage, guided self-inquiry can be a powerful tool. My first book, DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of the Masters can help you with this process. You’ll discover tools to help you determine what you are sensing, why it matters to you, and how to process any emotional response, from frustration to worry. Then, you’ll be guided through a process to determine corrective action to reduce the tensions effectively.
Emerging Disputes: Finding Resolution in Dialogue
When parties become acutely aware of the conflict, verbal exchanges may become aggressive. At this critical juncture, proactive measures can make an even bigger difference. Self-inquiry can still aid in:
- Defining the conflict
- Identifying each party’s interests
- Exploring potential solutions
However, if tensions persist, a mediator’s expertise becomes invaluable. A mediator can facilitate productive conversations that lead to constructive outcomes. With a mediators help, you shape a more positive future for your professional relationships.
Serious Conflicts: Rebuilding Amidst Chaos
Conflicts that can’t be ignored any longer might have escalated to litigation, non-violent actions like protests or strikes, or even violence. At this stage, a mediator plays a pivotal role in reminding all parties involved that they are, fundamentally, humans dealing with other humans. It’s a moment of introspection, where the consequences of continued conflict are laid bare, along with the unnecessary casualties it may bring. In these dire situations, a skilled mediator can orchestrate discussions that halt disruptive behavior and pave the way for a culture shift.
Create the Peaceful and Productive Workplace You Want
Conflicts are an inevitable part of the business landscape. Recognizing the stages of conflict and the right time to involve a mediator is key to preserving relationships and fostering positive change. Whether you’re dealing with latent tensions, emerging disputes, or serious conflicts, we can provide the guidance you need to resolve them them.
Together, we can create a more peaceful and productive work environment for your organization.