For most people, avoiding conflict is always preferable to the alternative: dealing with it. Unfortunately, that strategy often leads to resentment and tension between people, especially in the workplace. When there’s no communication, no resolution can be reached—and that’s a problem. Mediation is often needed to resolve the conflict and ensure that everyone agrees on a mutually-beneficial solution.
Mediation is an important tool for resolving workplace disputes and keeping teams working in harmony. Mediators don’t avoid conflict—they put themselves right in the middle of it. Becoming a skilled mediator is essential for business success because it helps to build cooperation, solves the inevitable problems that crop up in any workplace, and improves communication. Let’s take an in-depth look at why these skills are so valuable in an office or other business setting.
What is Mediation?
It’s important to know that mediation isn’t a skill someone uses when they’re personally involved in a problem—it’s a process that involves a neutral third party. A mediator establishes the parameters of the resolution and listens to both parties to gather as much information as possible. Mediation is a flexible process, but ultimately the goal is to come to a peaceful resolution that both parties agree to. It’s used when a conflict could benefit from structure and an impartial mediator, but doesn’t require a formal setting, such as a courtroom.
Mediation Skills Help in Business
Most conflicts in business can benefit from mediation, simply because communication and compromise are key to maintaining a strong culture of productivity, goodwill, and teamwork. Having mediation skills not only helps you to become a better communicator in the office, but it makes you a valuable asset to the team, helping others to overcome conflicts and move on from any bad feelings they might have generated. Mediation brings structure to an emotional issue.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur overseeing your own team or part of a larger organization, having mediation skills will help you succeed. Gaining skills in mediation means learning to communicate with all kinds of people, which helps you to become more empathetic, patient, and willing to talk about conflict.
Working with a Mediator Can Resolve Conflicts Easier
Becoming deadlocked in a conflict with another person means that there’s no objectivity in the situation. In order to resolve the conflict, someone will likely have to make major concessions, which can lead to bad feelings. Although compromise isn’t always easy even with a neutral third person involved, mediation can help to resolve conflicts more quickly and easily. They won’t solve the problem, but they assist with the process, set expectations, and help the two parties work together to come up with an agreement.
Skilled Communication Encourages a Culture of Diversity
Conflict is to be expected when people don’t understand each other. One of the benefits of increasing diversity is that people are forced to learn how to communicate with people who have different perspectives. That means facing conflicts that stem from misunderstandings and sometimes asking hard questions. Mediation can help resolve this tension and help people from different backgrounds work together in harmony.
Best Leaders Utilize Mediation for Success
Most people come into leadership roles frankly underequipped to really lead. Too many managers are afraid of conflict themselves, and would rather just let employees “work out” their differences on their own. It’s not necessarily their fault—they may never have been trained in these key communication and mediation skills or simply lack confidence. But that doesn’t mean they can just pretend conflict doesn’t happen.
The best leaders ask questions and keep an eye out for conflict so they can help to resolve them quickly. They always try to become better mediators and communicators because they know that these are key responsibilities for anyone in a leadership position. Gaining mediation skills gives leaders confidence and earns them respect from their teams.
The Bottom Line: Good Mediators are a Major Asset
Regardless of industry, conflict resolution and communication skills are universal assets in the workplace. Working through conflicts builds stronger teams and encourages creative solutions. With these skills in their workforce, companies and teams can reach their goals more quickly, reduce turnover, and promote a better working environment for everyone involved.