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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Conflict Mediation is a Normal Part of Life

When we think of self-empowerment, mediation is most likely not our first thought, but it should be. Mediation (not to be confused with meditation) is a dispute resolution process that actually has self-empowerment as one of its core values.

According to the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators, mediation is “a process in which an impartial third party facilitates communication and negotiation and promotes voluntary decision making by the parties to the dispute. Mediation serves various purposes, including providing the opportunity for parties to define and clarify issues, understand different perspectives, identify interests, explore and assess possible solutions, and reach mutually satisfactory agreements, when desired.”

So if we are not confident in our ability to make decisions while navigating a conversation with someone we are in conflict with, a mediator may be very beneficial. The presence of a neutral third party changes the dynamic to be more formal and professional, which motivates a majority of people to be on their better behavior. The mediator draws out thoughts and feelings, makes sure that the participants are being understood in the way intended and among other things, reality-test the proposed agreements.

No process is meant for everyone in every scenario. It is important to know that mediation is not appropriate for situations in which there is an uneven balance of power (like abuse) or if there are issues that may get in the way of someone to have the mental or emotional capacity to negotiate for themselves. This means having individual conversations with each person attending the mediation to screen for domestic violence, mental health concerns and/or drug or alcohol concerns prior to a joint mediation session.

If mediation is not appropriate or if one person does not agree to participate in the mediation process, they can still work with a conflict coach. It can be helpful to think of conflict coaching as personalized communication and conflict resolution skills training. The coach builds social and self-awareness using assessments, tools and skills such as conflict styles, “I messages”, blocks to listening and others.

Conflict is a normal, natural part of life for everyone. When a decision needs to be made, it depends on how much a person values the matter at hand and their relationship with those involved in the dynamic that affects how we respond—and that makes all the difference. If a person views conflict as a negative, scary, anxiety-provoking situation, it is more likely that they will have a less productive reaction or response, and the cycle will continue. Typically, fear and avoidance of the conflict that is worse than dealing with the issues straight on in an assertive, yet respectful way.

No one is alone in working through conflicts. Asking for help does not mean we are insufficient in any way—quite the opposite. Just as we ask for help from professionals with our physical health or financial quandaries, it is important we know when to bring in the experts to make sure the best result is reached for everyone involved.

Mila Pilz is the owner of Pangea Mediation. For more information, visit