Conflict Mediation is a win win oportunity to resolve differences with an impartial 3rd party Facilitator (mediator).   The parties come up with solutions that will work for both of them.  The mediator is a guide to help people listen, understand and create workable agreements. This process is very powerful and works often in only 3-4 hours! Mediation has an 85-90% success rate if people are willing to show up, be honest, and participate.  With this process,  participants gain courage  to communicate authentically to find win win solutions to the issue.

Conflict Mediation adopts a ‘no-blame’ approach when supporting people in resolving their dispute. The reasons behind doing this are just as relevant in any difficult situation such as a complaint, or relationship breakdown or other conflict situation. This page explains this approach and the reasons why it is an effective approach to resolve conflict.

The purpose of Conflict Mediation  is not to investigate to try to find the ‘truth’ about a situation. A neutral third party mediator(s) simply acknowledges that there is a problem and assists the parties in finding another way of viewing a situation or of responding to it that works for both of them (or all of them if there are more than 2 parties).

Often, people in dispute or conflict do not understand or even believe that mediators do not seek to allocate blame. There is such a strong culture of blame in our institutions, marriages and organizational practices that sometimes people have no alternative concept for dealing with disputes.

As an approach, the ‘no-blame’ idea is often seen as ‘soft’ or ‘wishy washy’. People often expect mediators to ‘investigate’ and then find fault with the other party.

I have good news! We don’t ever do either.

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Our role in hearing about a dispute is not to come to some form of judgment about it and then present our decision, but to help the parties:

  • Start to find their own ways of dealing with the breakdown or conflict more effectively
  • Reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by the conflict by helping them to give voice to their emotions and thoughts about the situation
  • Learn tools to deal with conflict & gain courage to communicate with difficult people.
  • Enhance their communication skills.
  • Ask for what you want or need and set boundaries.
  • Distinguish between what really happened and the story we all made up about what happened
  • Be able to listen to their side of the story without interrupting.
  • Create conditions of satisfaction with people who you interact with on a regular basis.
  • Come up with Win Win solutions to the issues/problems
  • Learn to have more compassion and forgiveness for people’s humanity without giving up yourself.
  • Learn to complete interactions with people are going on different paths in life or who no longer seem to be healthy for you. Both of you can be left empowered.

The point is that a no-blame approach enables learning for the future in that it allows an open discussion of what has happened.

Many disputes remain in a rut simply because of the continuous ‘blame approach’ adopted by those involved, whether those in dispute themselves or others who are ‘supporting’ them. People pay thousands of dollars in court only to feel empty and angry (even when one party thinks they won).

It is often the case that complainants make demands for compensation simply because the intransigence and stonewalling by the organization they are complaining about so angers them that they demand it as a way of trying to vent their anger.

Consider how much time, stress and money is involved in this messy approach for any organization that handles its complaints in this way.

Consider how much time, resources and money it costs and how much money can be saved via a no-blame approach to its disputes.

In the ‘blame approach’, the focus is not on the problem and finding a way forward and learning for the future, it is simply on avoiding blame and redirecting it to others. As a result, nothing changes. “Blame gives us permission to remain where we are while pressuring others to pressuring others to tiptoe around our wounds. Blame does not heal and it does not produce change; forgiveness does.” – Caroline Myss

I mediated a case where a manager and employee were unable to communicate or work effectively with each other anymore. The highly productive employee was so upset that she wanted to leave the company. In less than three hours, the manager and employee were finally able to listen, understand each other’s view point, realize that there were some cultural differences in their work styles and problem solved solutions that worked for both of them. This issue that had led to anger, frustration & hopelessness for both parties was exacerbated by the situation being unresolved for a year.

I also mediated a couple who had the same argument for over a year. The woman wasn’t getting her needs met and the man was tired of her complaining. The relationship was about to end until the couple came to mediation. In just two sessions, the couple learned to listen, respect and love each other again.

Sometimes people just want to understand the reasons for what happened and to hear an apology. Other times people want a win win solution to the problem. A no-blame approach provides this for people. Conflict Mediation and its no-blame approach enables effective communication to occur. The No-blame approach from the Underlying Philosophies of Mediation relates strongly to the Principle of Effective Communication that we challenge the behavior not the person, and it is ok to make mistakes.

Conflict Mediation is a confidential, without prejudice process and so any ‘admissions’ of fault will not be divulged elsewhere and so it is unnecessary to put up so many barriers to discussion of the issues. It is a no-blame approach.

When we stop focusing our energies and resources on finding someone to hang blame on for something that has happened, we can instead get on and look at what actions or behaviors occurred that led to it happening to learn how to avoid it and make a better response in the future.

This may be an accident or an oversight or some other problem, or it could be a destructive conflict that has arisen between people arising from this.

Hanging blame on someone doesn’t teach us anything about why a conflict arose or was responded to in a way that was destructive. It just allocates blame, nothing more. It suppresses the conflict, thus avoiding it. It does not resolve or heal the distress. We keep on doing what we’ve always done. And we keep on getting what we always got.

Only through adopting a no-blame approach can a conflict be truly resolved.

A no-blame approach is an acceptance of ‘what is’. It takes an approach which deals with reality – that something has occurred that has caused stress, unhappiness, and other upsetting feelings. It seeks to learn from what has happened, not only how to deal with it differently in the future but also how to deal with the distressing feelings arising from it.

In a dispute where the focus is on allocating blame, time and energy is directed toward this rather than on learning. Those being accused focus their energies on justifying everything they did, and even concealing things they did, to avoid condemnation. This lack of openness hinders learning, growth, greater connection between people.

Instead, via a no-blame approach, conflict can be recognized as inevitable, and unavoidable, as a rich source of learning and an opportunity for greater closeness and understanding between people. What an opportunity!

We work in the San Jose and San Francisco Bay area.  Prices vary depending on number of people involved, location, etc.  If you do not reach a Win Win solution, you do not have to pay.  Our services are 100% guaranteed or your money back.  You have nothing to lose- contact us today to set up a  Personal or Workplace Conflict Mediation session.  For more information about mediation, you can visit our other Conflict Mediators website.

 

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