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Who Is Really Listening in Conflict Resolution?


The ability to listen is one of the crucial skills needed to guarantee the successful implementation of a mediation process. In most cases, parties involved in a conflict do not naturally listen to each other and when they listen, they only do so to refute what the other party says. This situation frequently creates heightened emotions, which makes it difficult for the parties to communicate. For this reason, mediation sessions must be grounded in openness and retrospect, allowing both warring parties to effectively see things from the other’s perspective.

Firstly, mediators must be excellent listeners as they play an integral role in the mediation process. More so, they must have a deep mastery of their emotions, being conscious of the words used as the purpose of peaceful dialogue may be defeated if they are misinterpreted. A prolific listening ability enables mediators to be attentive to parties as they express their viewpoints and understand the unique train of thoughts that have conditioned individual parties to hold their respective stands in a conflict. Mediators must avoid giving in to prejudice fueled by partisan claims and negative actions to uphold a noble standard of judgment. Specifically, they practice reflective listening and in turn, help the parties to adjust their perspectives. It suffices to say that mediators should be active and passive listeners to effectively identify parties’ motivation while keeping the communication process flowing.

As aforementioned, the parties in a conflict equally need to be good listeners. In a conflict, the best outcome for involved parties is a peaceful resolution. This makes it quite important to listen more to a rival party to arrive at a consensus. Listening to a rival’s plight will enable each party to understand the other’s motivation. Listening is more effective when all parties exercise empathy as it helps them to eliminate all bias towards the other party. As much as each party seeks to explain their side of the story, they should be ready to listen and sympathize with the other party’s concerns, as this may help each party correct any existing misconceptions about the other party. Listening also helps the parties develop a rapport, which de-escalates tense situations and eases the process of resolving conflicts.

Listening during conflict resolution sessions involves paying complete attention to the conversation. The mind must be intent at every point while listening and the audience should read between the lines, focusing on the context as well as emotions that drive the speakers. The listeners must deter all dialogues in their minds during the discussion and avoid making judgments in their thoughts. Another critical component of listening actively is the use of non-verbal cues. Participants of conflict resolution processes should use these cues to help them pay more attention to the subjects of the dialogues. For instance, maintain- ing eye contact gives the perception of sincerity and straightforwardness. When addressing an audience, it portrays confidence and genuineness to maintain eye contact while speaking in a composed but non-condescending tone. It is noteworthy that there are negative non-verbal cues to avoid especially in a conflict situation as they may escalate tensions amidst an existing conflict. Rolling the eyes, giving the finger, yelling, etc. are among the negative cues that could impede a mediation process. The little things matter even at a stage when a resolution is imminent. A single misinterpretation of body posture or facial expression could set back an imminent resolution. A simple handshake could be all it takes to seal a successful mediation, which is why the little non-verbal cues are important in a resolution process. Overall, when all stakeholders involved in a mediation use or avoid these non-verbal cues appropriately, they may help create a reassuring environment.

In conclusion, every participant in a conflict resolution process is essential to the success of the endeavor. To facilitate a peaceful resolution, mediators, as well as all stakeholders in a conflict, need to listen keenly during dialogues, engage with an open mind, set aside partisan beliefs and emotions, and strive to be tolerant. The goal of listening (actively, passively, and reflectively) is to establish a mutual understanding of the unique views of all involved parties in a conflict, and in turn, induce responses from rivals to properly address long-standing grievances and misconceptions across the board. Although this is not the only component of mediation, it is by far the most important precedent that will determine the outcome of the conflict resolution process.

Robert is a Certified Florida Supreme Court County, Circuit and Family Mediator. He has a passion for peacefully resolving family issues, eliminating workplace disputes, and improving workforce morale. Robert has mediated disputes and provided a party-centered healthy environment that focuses primarily on the needs, rights, and in- terests of clients.

Jacksonville Business Mediation

Business disputes should not be seen as a battle to be won, but as a problem to be solved swiftly and effectively. At Walker Mediation & Consulting, we understand the unique difficulties that business disputes can bring. This is why our Jacksonville business mediation practice is tailored towards providing effective dispute resolution services that encourage fast, profitable, and efficient solutions.

Walker Mediation & Consulting offers considerable expertise in business mediation and consulting, including a proven track record of assisting effective resolution in the US and international business disputes.

Led by Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator, Robert Walker, our dispute resolution team is available to help you find collaborative ways to forge beyond business disputes and advance your corporate goals.

Business mediation overview

Business mediation overview

Business mediation has long been recognized as an important alternative to court-centered dispute resolution processes. Due to the significant cost, time, and resource-intensive nature of litigation, corporate interests are better served by submitting disputes to a forum that is fast, cost-effective, and efficient.

Parties in a business mediation dispute often vary. They include individuals within an organization, small businesses, or large national or multinational companies confronted with a contract, real estate, or employment dispute. Handled inefficiently, these disputes can spiral out of control, hurting business relationships and, ultimately, the business’ bottom line.

A business mediator’s role is to manage the competing interests in the dispute, assist the parties with identifying and prioritizing the most important interests, and facilitate communication that leads to an amicable resolution. In performing this duty, the business mediator may be required to overcome any roadblocks to settlement such as a knowledge gap on the true interests and position of each party.

Accomplished business mediators are tasked with finding inventive solutions that encourage mutual satisfaction and ideally help the parties find ways to progress their business relationship. A dedicated problem-solving philosophy is important to achieving this.

The business mediation process

Mediation is inherently collaborative. This means both parties are working together to solve their dispute. They share the costs of the mediation, including mediator fees, forum expenses, and other expenses that are incidental to a successful resolution.

The process starts with finding a neutral party to meet with both sides to the dispute and try to help find a resolution. This is the mediator, who will often be a certified professional with the experience to assist in your dispute. The mediator has been trained to see and listen objectively, so you can be certain you have someone who will listen fairly to your side of the story and help you find a solution that works.

In the next stage of the process, each party will be allowed to explain their position to the mediator. Sometimes, either party may be able to question the other or the mediator may ask questions to clarify events.

After listening to both sides, the mediator will then work with both parties to attempt to help them identify and prioritize the most important interests. Working from the common ground between the parties, the mediator may ask that both parties get together to identify possible solutions to the dispute. For more contentious disputes, the mediator may meet with each party separately to present the views of the other party and help them see where they can meet.

At the end of the process, the mediator will present their findings on the dispute to both parties and suggest a way to resolve the dispute. If the solution seems favorable to both parties, the mediator will assist with drafting an agreement that reflects the joint position of the parties.

Benefits of business mediation

Benefits of business mediation

Businesses that choose to settle their disputes via mediation are able to avoid the stress and opportunity losses that protracted litigation will often present. Business mediation can help both parties come to a mutually beneficial solution without going to court or incurring the costs associated with drawn-out litigation. Other benefits of business mediation include:

  • Time savings: Business mediation is fast and effective. Parties may reach a satisfactory resolution within hours or days of submitting their dispute to a qualified mediator. In contrast, litigation takes much longer, often up to months or years, for even the simplest of business disputes.
  • Flexibility: Parties can consider and adopt an almost unending variety of ways to resolve their dispute through business mediation. This encourages the parties to find creative dispute resolution strategies that might otherwise be unavailable in the rigid court-centered process.
  • Swift and cost-effective: Since the parties share the cost of business mediation, the process is less expensive than litigation. They are also able to enjoy cost advantages over litigation as they can dictate how long the process takes.
  • Relationship: For partners who wish to continue doing business together in the future, business mediation is advantageous to preserve the business relationship. The forum is civil, collaborative and helps parties genuinely move past their differences.

There are several other benefits that business mediation holds for parties, including the opportunity to avoid potentially uncomfortable publicity for sensitive disputes. Parties may however rely on the discretion and confidentiality of their business mediators.

Walker Mediation & Consulting business mediation services

Our Jacksonville business mediation services at Walker Mediation & Consulting are structured around providing highly dependable mediation services to businesses in a variety of industries.

At Walker Mediation & Consulting, we have been trusted by clients from all over Florida and the US with the most sensitive and time-bound disputes, with admirable results. Our clients trust us to help manage their business relationships and find solutions to disputes that encourage stronger and more profitable business relations.

Robert Walker is a Certified Florida Supreme Court County, Circuit, and Family Mediator with extensive expertise. Robert has a BSc. in Management and an MBA in Business Admin. This helps him provide practical and business-oriented strategies to resolve the most complicated business disputes.

To learn more about our Jacksonville business mediation services or to schedule a consultation with Robert Walker, please contact us at (833) 763-3428 today.

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