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Mediate, Don’t Litigate

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How often do we hear these laments in the workplace: “I wish I knew how to get along with so and so,” or, “Why is she/he so dogmatic,” or “If only he/she could learn to get along things would be so much more pleasant around here,” or “I find it difficult to complete tasks because of rumors and innuendos,” and “I hate coming to work because of all of the infighting and remarks being passed around!”

Are office politics and conflicts like these just an accepted part of the workplace atmosphere? Or is it just possible that something can be done to handle it? Using the process of mediation in large and small corporations I have discovered that both business and personal disputes can be resolved. When you increase understanding you also increase morale in the workplace.

Mediation resolves problems with less stress and anger. Using the technology of mediation, I have successfully ended many conflicts and problems that have arisen during divorces and with employees mid a conflict in businesses. The mediator works with all conflicting parties, either together in one room, or it can even be done over the telephone.

One of the main aspects of mediation is that the mediator remains totally objective to all parties, which helps them to feel secure and put their trust in their mediator. This creates an atmosphere of open communication that leads to mutual agreements.

Mediation involves pre-suit settlement, is cheaper and faster than litigation, and is objective. In litigation the judge decides one party wins and one loses with the result that the parties remain enemies for life. The negative emotions and anger between them remain.

With mediation there are no large court costs; the mediator leads the parties to negotiation and agreements in a fraction of the time, usually within a few hours. There are win-win solutions for all parties, and mutual agreements that the parties themselves write, so the agreements become their “own,” and they are more willing to uphold them.

The mediator is pledged to confidentiality and cannot share any names.

To illustrate how the process works here are some actual examples:

In a recent family mediation the two parties were divorced and came to me full of rancor and anger towards each other. Their children had been going back and forth to both parents relating “stories” of what the other had said. It took a while, but when we finally discovered the problem the parents could make agreements — including not letting the children, or anyone else interfere with their attitude towards each other and the children. This resulted in peace and harmony where there had been great upset in all their lives. This took just a matter of hours.

Here is what they said at the conclusion of the mediation:

“This was a great process through challenging times.”

“My mediation is the most successful experience I have had yet to date with my ex-husband. We agreed on several issues concerning our children, which we had not been able to agree on before.”

A workplace mediation in a sexual harassment case looked like it would not settle — they were too far apart regarding the issues. But after much talking back and forth (including dire threats of, “We are going to rake her over the coals in court”) the mediation process helped each side to see the other person’s viewpoint and they did settle.

When it was over the corporation participants “high-fived” each other and breathed a big sigh of relief. They said how glad they were that they would not have to go to court. The young woman bringing the suit was likewise very happy — she did not want to go to court either. Everyone walked out with big smiles and a great sense of relief and satisfaction. It took less than a day to complete.

Mediation training for employees can produce remarkable results. The CEO of a company was lamenting that sales were not where they should be — largely due to the anger and bickering among some of the employees. He commented that his sales manager was very competent, but tended to assert herself strongly, creating resentment among the staff. She was close to being terminated.

He did not give me her name. During the training, I spotted who it was by her dogmatic attitude — she even tried to take over the seminar! I gently got her and the others through the training, showing them how they could use mediation technology to avoid and handle disputes as they arise. Their sales statistics went up, people now got along better with each other, and the CEO was free to plan instead of having to handle his employees’ disputes.

How can you use the tools of mediation to avoid and handle upsets and to have good working relationships on the job? Remain objective, ask relevant questions and by listening and using this information interact with the other person. Learn and use good communication skills. When people can be in good communication, and can reach workable agreements together, the results are predictable:

  • higher productivity

  • increased sales

  • improved morale

  • happier employees who like to go to work, want be there and do a good job.

The Mediation process is a very sane and helpful one. It produces understanding and communication, fair and happier results, win-win situations, settled differences, agreements, solved problems with less stress, and saves Money and Time!


Jean Brasel

Jean Brasel, a FL State Certified Mediator since 1994, has successfully conducted many mediations with couples and employees/businesses, helping them through their misunderstandings. One of her clients is the US Postal Service, where she helps handle employee misunderstandings. Through training, she helps employees get along better with each other, and… MORE >

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