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That is Surprising – Reflections of a New Mediator

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In my last blog post, I discussed the benefits of utilizing community mediation in the area in which you live. I mentioned that many states have community mediation centers and those centers will train volunteers in their process. In June 2016, I was trained in the inclusive mediation model to become a community mediator in my county, and it has been an educational and rewarding experience.

Every mediation I have either mediated or observed has been entirely different, which is both exciting and a little nerve-racking.  It is exciting because no situation or issue is alike which can be challenging. But, it is also nerve-racking because you never know what to expect. Some sessions you may assume will be low-conflict with minimal arguing, and then it turns out to be the opposite.

In this week’s post, I thought I would reflect on what I’ve found surprising thus far from this volunteering adventure.

One, the number of times participants come to the mediation table with a competitive mindset and try throughout the process to convince the mediators they are right. The beautiful thing about mediation is the Mediators are neutral third parties, and they cannot take sides. Although this is explained several times at the start of the session, still participants try to persuade the neutral third parties of their stance.

Two, I find it surprising how often new insights on a particular conflict are unearthed by the participants in a mediation session. In the inclusive model, we are taught to listen for feelings, values, and topics and then use a technique called reflecting to illuminate the participant’s point of view and check to make sure what is being heard is what they mean to say.  I have observed one participant learning that the other party felt isolated and alone during a particularly challenging time. When these feelings were recognized and heard, it changed the tone of the entire session and conflict.

Third, not entirely surprising but fascinating occurrence is the way both parties share a different “truth” of the conflict and believe that the way they see it is more accurate than the other’s version. I’ve heard the saying, “There are three sides to every story, yours, mine, and the truth” so this occurrence isn’t that surprising. But, I find it fascinating because we often assume that because we are involved in the same conflict, we are experiencing it the same way. When the other party shares their version of an event, and they mention parts that you didn’t see, feel, or hear, our natural inclination is to believe they are not truthful. Instead of recognizing that everyone experiences things differently.

Finally, I have been surprised by how often I leave a session feeling energized by the work the participants are doing. A resolution isn’t always achieved, but more often than not the participants have found themselves communicating more and closer to a solution than they had been before.

I have learned a lot in this last year, and I am excited about the knowledge I will acquire going forward. I hope I continue to be surprised.

 

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S. Negotiation and Conflict Management

Guest Blogger

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Resolving Conflicts Constructively – Trust Me, It’s a Thing!

traffic-lights-466950_1920People deal with conflict every day of their lives. Conflict stripped down to bare bones is merely a clashing view on a particular topic. However, most of us when we hear the word conflict we think, yelling, name-calling, slamming doors, silent treatment, cold-shoulder, avoidance, etc. Conflict does not have to be this way. You can have a conflict with someone and through listening, discussing, negotiating, and empathizing you can resolve the conflict constructively. The constructive way to resolve conflict seems far fetch, doesn’t it? I thought so in the beginning when I first started to learn about conflict resolution.

The reason I believe that we find the concept of constructive conflict resolution so improbable is because we have never seen it done properly. We often learn from the world around us how to manage conflict, and most often our examples do not do it well. Think about what your household was like growing up, did your parent’s communicate well? Try to remember a time when there was a disagreement, did they yell over top of one another? Speak in absolutes, “You always cut me off, why should I listen”? Or did they do the opposite, where rather than discussing it at all they simply gave one another the cold shoulder and then eventually at some point the conflicts resolved? How your family managed conflicts growing up is likely how you approach conflicts today.

Changing how you approach conflict can be tough especially if you do not have any idea how to go about doing it. What if I told you there is a way to resolve your conflicts constructively for little or no cost? Community mediation is an awesome resource that many people do not realize is available to them.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process involving a neutral third party that facilitates communication between two or more opposing parties in hopes of achieving reconciliation and resolution.

Mediation allows both sides the opportunity to be heard and also to control the outcome of their conflict as opposed to going to court where a lawyer will speak for you, and a judge determines the outcome. Mediation is also a much cheaper option than going to court where costly fees for lawyers and such can rack up quickly.

What is community mediation?

Community mediation centers exist in just about every one of the fifty states. Many centers serve specific communities and regions within their state. They are often free or low-cost, efficient and timely in regards to scheduling and availability, and most often voluntary meaning, you are in charge of the process and can stop mediation at any time. The mediators that facilitate your conflict are often volunteers that have gone through your center’s particular training program. They are neutral third parties, which means they are unable to take sides or give any advice to you. Also, mediators are bound by a confidentiality agreement. The best and most important thing I believe about this service is it is your process; you are in control; the mediator is simply there as a guide.

What’s the point of having a mediator present if they are only facilitating and can’t tell me what to do?

Just the presence of another person who is neutral and unattached to the conflict can change the entire dynamic of the disagreement and how the parties approach one another. We tend to behave better when another person is present. The mediator will ask questions and will use reflection to assist one side in further clarifying their feelings, needs, and wants to the other side. When we are entrenched in our conflicts, we often say things we don’t mean, by having a neutral third party there to parrot back to you what you just said it gives you the power to edit and rephrase your message in a clear and concise way.

The most amazing thing about all of this is once you witness constructive conflict resolution, you’ll have the tools and be more mindful of what to do in future conflicts to achieve the same results.  Consider the option of reaching out to the community mediation center in your area next time you experience a conflict and take advantage of a service that could help make your life easier! In fact, we have some podcasts on community mediation. Listen now!

 

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S. Negotiation and Conflict Management

Guest Blogger/ Host

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Conflict Chat….Handling Intense Emotions and Rage

Straight from the Archives! Conflict Chat with host, Pattie Porter and guest hosts, Stephen Kotev and Abigail R. C. McManus on August 29th at 7 pm CST on Blog Talk Radio.
Pattie8Stephen Kotevclark.photo.Got Conflict? If you have a conflict with someone, and are not sure how to handle it, then let us know. Here is your opportunity to ask your question with Conflict Management experts who are mediators, conflict coaches and facilitators on how to think about, analyze or resolve your situation.

Think about it. Are you currently engaged in an active conflict with your co-workers or boss? Ignoring your neighbor because of a conversation you don’t want to have? In a disagreement with your spouse? Or simply afraid to bring up a concern with a friend in fear of stirring up problems.

Discussion Topics:

“When you are emotionally hijacked like in the recent road rage incident and untimely death of NFL football icon, Will Smith, what do we learn about how we handle our intense rage and emotions?”

  1.  Will Smith Death Police Report
  2. Will Smith Death

Factors that Modulate Pain

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Inaugural Show – My Story & Why I Got Started


Pattie8zena ZumetaGot Conflict? The Texas Conflict Coach®, a division of Conflict Connections, Inc. provides consumer education and tools to build self-awareness, skills, and resources to manage conflict effectively.

In this inaugural show, Pattie Porter connects with the audience by sharing her story of growing up in a high conflict family, and this led eventually to her work as a conflict management expert. Pattie sets the stage for future shows including the idea of giving fieldwork assignments.

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Mediating with True Believers

 

  Church congregations are not immune to conflict. Beth Padgett and Alexandria Skinner would argue that conflict is a sign of an active, engaged, and vital congregation. The question is not whether religious communities will have conflict, but how they will respond to it when it happens. Beth and Alexandria will discuss patterns of church conflict, as well as how mediators can invite clergy, staff, and members into trans-formative conversations where firmly held beliefs are part of the conflict and its transformation.   

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Conflict Chat with….Pattie Porter, Stephen Kotev and Abigail R. C. McManus

Pattie8Stephen Kotevclark.photo.Got Conflict? If you have a conflict with someone, and are not sure how to handle it, then let us know. Here is your opportunity to ask your question with Conflict Management experts who are mediators, conflict coaches and facilitators on how to think about, analyze or resolve your situation.

Think about it. Are you currently engaged in an active conflict with your co-workers or boss? Ignoring your neighbor because of a conversation you don’t want to have? In a disagreement with your spouse? Or simply afraid to bring up a concern with a friend in fear of stirring up problems.

 

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Community Mediation: Empowerment and Dialogue

 

In many communities around the country there are community mediation centers supported by volunteer mediators.  Community Boards of San Francisco is the oldest community mediation center in the country, started in 1976.  The philosophy of community mediation centers is to empower community members to resolve their own disputes rather than resorting to courts or other outsiders to do it for them. Participants in mediation have found that the process helps them feel heard, and increases their understanding of themselves and the other person as well.  Community Boards has handled thousands of cases in its 36 year history, and has helped 85% of those who use their mediation services reach a successful agreement.

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Repairing the Hidden Damage of Conflict Avoidance

 

Katrina Burrus, Pattie PorterStephen - 1CONFLICT…either you hate it and avoid it at all costs, or you thrive on it by pushing to get your point across to the detriment of others.  How we recognize potential conflict or respond to ongoing conflict is a choice. It is a learned skill that challenges your thinking, taps into your emotions, and requires you to make strategic behavioral choices. These choices help build courage, confidence and competence to handle difficult, tension-filled situations.

What is conflict avoidance, and how can it create unintended damage to relationships and escalate situations? More often than not, it is used as a default defense mechanism which often leads to a much bigger problem. You will learn behavioral cues and underlying motivating factors that drive us to react in damaging ways. More importantly, you can make different choices and learn strategies to help you take courageous steps to address conflict confidently.

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The UnSlut Project: Stop “Slut” Shaming and Sexual Bullying

Emily-LindinStephenKotev2-smallclark.photo.Have you ever been called a “slut”? If so, how did you feel? Whether you are sexually active or not the term can be hurtful and embarrassing. If you’re a parent of a teen, have you heard about “slut” shaming and the dire effects it can have on your impressionable teenager?

“Slut” shaming and sexual bullying is occurring every day in America. Many teens are experiencing these issues and feel uncomfortable reporting it to their parents or other adults. Emily Lindin, who founded of The UnSlut Project in April 2013, found herself in this exact situation when she was eleven. She began journaling about these incidents of “slut” shaming and sexual bullying she faced in school.

As Emily published her journal entries, she hoped that her words would reach teens experiencing the same thing bringing awareness about this prevalent issue. The UnSlut Project started as a small online personal submission and has now grown to incorporate the stories of girls, women, and men of many ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. Emily will be discussing the UnSlut Project and her upcoming video project “Slut: A Documentary Film” and her soon to be released book, “UnSlut: A Diary and A Memoir”.

 

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Become a Virtual Judge or Have Your Case Settled on the Net- Part 2

Oct 6th

StephenKotev2Brāv is a new way for people of any age to find a solution to bullying, violence, and conflict. Find out why this is so important and join our guest, Remi Alli to learn how to settle family, school, and workplace disputes online.

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