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Basic Steps for Mediating Interpersonal Conflict

Sometimes a conflict is best resolved by having a neutral third party guide and structure discussions in order to support finding a resolution. This process, also known as mediation, entails helping the parties directly communicate to compromise, negotiate, and hopefully come to an agreement or solution together.

Not all conflicts will be resolvable, even with mediation. That does not mean the process was useless, however. Mediation can be an opportunity for the parties to gain insight and understanding about each other. It can also help everyone to root into and advance their communication skills.

Though there are many forms of mediation, this resource is a tool for mediating entrenched but relatively low-level conflicts between individuals. Those are conflicts rooted in misunderstanding, miscommunication, personality differences, or active disagreement. This process is best used after other efforts such as direct feedback, supportive coaching, and courageous conversations have been unsuccessful. Mediation requires the consent and willing participation of all parties.

This resource is not designed for mediation related to harassment, discrimination, threats to individual safety, or any other activities that could fall under your organization’s Human Resource’s complaint or grievance processes.

Mediation is a consent-based, time intensive process that requires several meetings–often over a series of weeks. Mediation also draws on the psychological resources of everyone involved, as it asks them to sit with, communicate about, and reflect on an active conflict. Because of this reality, the most successful mediations are spacious–not condensed and urgent–while having a clear end.

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Basic Steps for Mediating Interpersonal Conflict

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Contact: Juliette Lee, TREC

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