The image above shows oil on water. To me this represents what is often going on for people who are experiencing conflict. What is happening on the surface, in people's daily interactions, is not the same as what's going on underneath for them.
I help people work out what's really going on, what they really need, and how to communicate this effectively to others.
I have more than 20 years of experience in helping people work out what needs to happen in order to sort out a conflict, whether at home, at work, or in a commercial situation.
What happens in mediation?
The first thing I do is meet each person separately. I have a confidential conversation with each person or group, assessing their needs and concerns, and also assessing whether it is appropriate to go ahead. I need to make sure that people are going to be safe during our process, and also I need to work out what preparation is needed to bring about the best chance of people getting a solution to their problems.
During those first, private conversations I am also assessing which process may be most suitable. Sometimes mediation is the best way forward, sometimes conflict coaching. And in some cases, I recommend that people use a legal process to manage their differences.
What's the difference between mediation and conflict coaching?
Mediation is a fairly straightforward process which has particular pattern. Firstly I meet with each person privately, usually for one or two hour-long sessions. If the situation is suitable for mediation, we then hold a joint meeting which usually takes at least three hours. During the mediation meeting I will firstly ask each person to outline their needs and concerns. We then discuss these in detail, with each person explaining their own needs and concerns, and also listening to the other person's. I then meet each person for a private conversation, where we discuss what has been talked about and start thinking about how to move towards an agreement.
When we get back together in the joint meeting, we start talking about options, and each person gets to to suggest options and evaluate options that are put up. Then, together, we negotiate a solution that each person can accept, and we also talk about how to make sure the agreement can stick. Finally, in most cases, we write up the agreement and both people will sign it.
Conflict Coaching allows each person to explore, separately, the problem they have, the effects of the problem and what is contributing to it. The main difference between conflict coaching and mediation is that the individuals tend to do more one to one work with me for conflict coaching. They may not always meet the other person at all. Often, coaching is about working out different approaches to take. It may also involve some communication training and practice. Typically, in conflict coaching, a person may have up to six sessions with me, to help them work out how to manage their conflict effectively.