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Mediation

Why Using a Business Expert as a Mediator Is a Good Idea?

Has your business come to a standstill because of undisputed issues?

Don’t have anyone on staff with the credentials, expertise and negotiation skills required to resolve them?

If you answered yes, you need a Business Mediator who knows the corporate world inside and out.

Why You Need a Business Mediator

Running a business can be demanding not only physically but mentally as well. Your aim should be to think of and implement strategies for business growth. Wasting time handling petty disputes can delay that growth for years.

However, these are inescapable parts of running an organization, which, if handled well, can result in big gains. It could be anything from a contractual dispute to a disagreement between business partners. In such cases, a business mediator can prove invaluable because they:

De-Escalate Tense Situations

Irrespective of the scale of a conflict, things can get heated and if they escalate, the experience can be quite draining.

Take contractual disputes, for instance. Irrespective of how complex or simple a contract is, there is always room for doubt and ambiguity. If those issues are not resolved, one party may threaten to sue the other or ask for monetary compensation for supposed damages.

Rather than taking this costly route, if both parties agree to a mediation agreement, both can get what they want with an amicable solution.

Resolve Disputes Amicably

Mediation offers an amicable way to resolve conflicts without escalating them since it doesn’t take sides. The aim is to find a solution that meets the needs of both parties, which is what the mediator is responsible for. Since both parties come to an agreement together, they are more likely to follow it and since the experience can be referenced for future disputes, it can nip potential issues in the bud.

This is more preferable to hiring a lawyer who may charge you an arm and a leg. Additionally, mediation works more quickly and can last for a few hours at most, unlike dispute resolution from a lawyer that can take several hours to complete. If the other party hired their own attorney, the conflict could last for days. Additionally, unlike public court cases, mediation is conducted behind closed doors at a venue that is convenient for both parties.

Are Masters of Communication

Skilled mediators are Masters of Communication. They know how to read people, diffuse tension, and streamline open discussions that can result in conflict resolution. In other words, they are masters at refocusing people on mutually beneficial outcomes without ruffling feathers, so to speak. As critical thinkers and problem-solvers, they help involved parties to see a conflict from a different viewpoint, without letting personal biases interfere.

That is not to say that mediation always ends in a settlement. However, even if you don’t end up agreeing with the other party after going through it, you will at least be aware of their biggest concerns in the conflict and can act accordingly in the future.

Mediation vs. Arbitration

Mediation is often confused with arbitration, but they are quite different. The former is an informal back and forth debate between two conflicting parties, while the latter is more formal and dependent on processes that the arbitrator sets in place beforehand. Arbitration usually occurs in court and the decision is binding. Mediation is non-binding because the mediator does not impose his/her decision on the parties. Their aim is to facilitate the situation, not escalate it with aggressive tactics.

Why You Should Hire Me as Your Mediator

With extensive knowledge of Business Law and with four decades of experience as an accomplished business owner, I bring in-depth insight on key complexities and issues that can derail a corporation if they are not resolved amicably.

My main areas of expertise include:

  • Pre-suit disputes.
  • Business Valuation
  • County Mediations.
  • Civil mediations for contracts, landlord/tenant disputes, intellectual property, internet, and social media.
  • Alternative conflict resolution.

In the business realm, even the smallest issues can take on devastating proportions if they are not resolved in a timely and cordial manner. Whether it involves contractual obligations or issues between investors, vendors, employees, or creditors, I have the business experience and extensive insight into corporate legal frameworks to make a positive difference.

Besides streamlining the mediation process, my expertise saves time. Think about it. Would you rather spend more time negotiating terms or explaining basic terms to the mediator? With a skilled and qualified mediator, you can expedite these meetings without incurring extra costs.

Brought to by Inspired Mediation, Boca Raton, FL 33433

Resolving Conflicts, Respectfully™

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Mediation

The Three Types of Difficult Conversations

To make the task of giving feedback and addressing conflict less daunting, we break down difficult conversations into three separate conversations:

Difficult Conversation 1.

The “What happened?” conversation.

Your discussion of the substance of a conflict – what each party perceives got them to this point – should be aimed at separating impact from intention. If one employee complains that another employee demeaned him, it is important to find out the intention of the person who is being accused. We often jump to false conclusions about others’ intentions.

Difficult Conversation 2.

The “feelings” conversation.

Emotions play a strong role in conflicts. Wise business negotiators give disputants plenty of space to explain how they are feeling. You can do so effectively by engaging in active listening, which involves paraphrasing what the other person has said as accurately as possible, asking open-ended questions aimed at revealing the other person’s motivations and interests, and acknowledging the other person’s emotions and concerns.

Difficult Conversation 3.

The “identity” conversation. Our deepest concerns about our identity often can be found at the root of our conflicts of others. Such identity concerns include questions about whether we are competent, respected, and ethical. Consider whether the conflict might threaten how the disputants view themselves, then aim to help them maintain a positive self-image as you offer suggestions for improvement.

Honest and useful feedback can be just as difficult to accept as it is to deliver, write two of the authors of Difficult Conversations, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, in their new book, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Portfolio Penguin, 2014).

Our own personal negotiation and dispute resolution “blind spots” – such as a bad temper or extreme sensitivity – can prevent us from being open to feedback and resolving conflict. To overcome our blind spots and move forward, we must consider the possibility that others have identified something about us that we ourselves cannot see. Ask for clarification and patience as you work on learning more about your blind spots and trying to do better at conflict management.

~Submitted by: Patrick Cioffi

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Mediation

How Leaders can Facilitate Conflict Resolution

Conflict at work can either fuel or disrupt the momentum of an organization. When teams are working in a hectic and tense environment, it gives rise to disagreements and unnecessary arguments.

Managing conflict can become challenging, especially for leaders who are not familiar with the intricacies of daily operations and the concerns of the team members involved.

Even a trivial issue can create a ruckus if it is not handled at the right time and in the right manner. It becomes the responsibility of leaders in such crucial times to take effective steps to prevent conflicts.

“A true leader should assess conflict situations correctly and handle them carefully so that healthy team tension doesn’t turn into disruptive chaos.”

Sadly, many leaders prefer to avoid tense situations and insist on maintaining a fake harmonious environment. This helps enhance their popularity in the workplace initially. However, what they do not realize is that this eventually leads to further build-up of negativity and internal disruption amongst team members.

A leader must try to actively neutralize or minimize such difficult situations so that they do not get out of hand. When leaders help resolve conflicts, it strengthens the trust within the team. Employees are then better able to optimize their output and efficiency for the growth of the organization.

How to Deal with Conflict

It is a leader’s responsibility to create and sustain the workplace momentum, engage employees in healthy discussions, and handle conflicts delicately. To help with this process, the following will help:

1. Right Timing

Most conflicts occur due to differences in understanding. Timing is of utmost importance in such situations. A leader should assess these misunderstandings and facilitate a healthy discussion in an open environment to avoid the escalation of the conflict.

It is also essential for leaders to act when there is definite proof of an employee’s track record of wrongdoings that have been adversely affecting the morale of the team.

Employees look up to leaders to intervene and take effective steps. If they know you are aware of their concerns and are not acting upon them, you will lose their trust. Timely action in confronting the issues is a must for every leader. If you hesitate while deciding, your reputation will suffer along with the progress of the organization.

2. Do not Overstep Boundaries

Coaching your team and learning about them is essential while dealing with and resolving conflicts. This will help you understand the limitations and boundaries of your employees. As a leader, you must understand the risks and rewards of conflict resolution without overstepping the boundaries of each employee.

When you know your team members closely and understand their expectations, you can openly communicate with them about their drawbacks in the workplace.

Once you have identified behavioral tendencies that trigger such conflicts, you can create awareness to their behavior sensitively. This can be better accomplished with open interactive sessions where you set precedence and reinforce performance expectations for every team member. This will help them become more aware and actively prevent any conflicts from arising.

3. Respect Differences

Leaders should seldom pull rank and authority while handling conflicts in the workplace. The authoritarian approach to conflict resolution does not resolve anything. Instead, it fuels internal negativity amongst employees.

As a leader, you should respect the unique differences in people and try to understand their individual viewpoints before arriving at any conclusion.

Conflict resolution is not simply black and white. There are grey areas in the workplace that have gained prominence with rising cultural and generational diversity.

As you understand your employees better, you can not only avoid the conflicts but also resolve these conflicts (if they arise) by bringing everyone on the same page through effective open communication. This will help you as a leader retain the trust of teams and enable them to value when guidance is needed during conflicts.

4. Confront the Tension

Leadership is not a popularity contest. As a leader, you will have to confront tension in the workplace and sometimes make decisions that might not be well received. Conflicts give rise to heightened emotions that make the workplace more difficult. That is why it is important to address such situations at the earliest stage before they spiral out of control.

Conflict resolution is quite like other challenging decisions that you make in the organization. You must trust your gut and wisdom to make the right decision. Waiting and hesitating makes things only worse and complicated.

See conflict resolution as an opportunity to enable an open and healthier environment in the workplace.

“A true leader understands that facing difficult situations together with the team strengthens trust and builds authentic relationships.”

Conflict resolution is not only an opportunity for professional growth for employees but also an opportunity to improve the maturity level of your leadership.

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

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Mediation

Why Use a Mediator Who is a Business Expert

Has your business come to a standstill because of undisputed issues?

Don’t have anyone on staff with the credentials, expertise and negotiation skills required to resolve them?

If you answered yes, you need a Business Mediator who knows the corporate world inside and out.

Why You Need a Business Mediator
Running a business can be demanding not only physically but mentally as well; stressful. Your aim should be to think of and implement strategies for business growth. Wasting time handling petty internal disputes can delay that growth for years.

However, these are inescapable parts of running an organization which, if handled well, can result in big gains. It could be anything from a contractual dispute to a disagreement between business partners, vendors and employees. In such cases, a Business Mediator will prove invaluable because they:

De-Escalate Tense Situations

Irrespective of the scale of a conflict, things can get heated and if they escalate, the experience can be quite draining. And in many cases negatively affect employee morale, decrease employee productivity and loss of staff.

Take contractual disputes, for instance. Irrespective of how complex or simple a contract is, there is always room for doubt and ambiguity. If those issues are not resolved, one party may threaten to sue the other or ask for monetary compensation for supposed damages.

Rather than taking the legal route, which is always costly for all, if both parties agree to a mediation agreement, both can get what they want with a mutually amicable solution.

Resolve Disputes Amicably

Mediation offers an amicable way to resolve conflicts without escalating them since it doesn’t take sides. The aim is to find a mutual solution that meets the needs of both parties. Since both parties come to an agreement together, they are more likely to follow it and since the experience can be referenced for future disputes, it can nip other potential issues in the bud.

This is a preferable method than hiring a lawyer who typically charge thousands of dollars in fees. Additionally, mediation works more quickly and can last for a couple hours, unlike dispute resolution from a lawyer that can take numerous hours to complete. If the other party hired their own attorney, the conflict could last for days., even weeks. Additionally, unlike public court cases, mediation is conducted behind closed doors at a venue that is convenient for both parties. Mediation guarantees that the issue and its result will never be placed in the public domain. Mediation is confidential.

Are Masters of Communication

Skilled mediators are Masters of Communication. They know how to “read” people, diffuse tension and streamline open discussions that can result in a fair and reasonable resolution. In other words, a mediator is master at refocusing people on mutually beneficial outcomes without ruffling feathers, so to speak. As critical thinkers and problem-solvers, they help involved parties to see a conflict from a different viewpoint, without letting personal biases interfere.

That is not to say that mediation always ends in a settlement. However, even if id a party does not agree with the other party, you will at least be aware of their biggest concerns in the conflict and can act accordingly in the future.

Mediation vs. Arbitration
Mediation is often confused with arbitration – they are quite different. Mediation is an informal, impartial, confidential, non-binding and a voluntary process. It is mutually settled between two conflicting parties. The mediator is present to facilitate the process and assist the parties to reach an agreement.

Arbitration is a process where the facts are submitted to an arbitrator or an arbitration panel and after reviewing all evidence, a final decision is made. The decision is final and binding.

Is Mediation Expensive?
NO! When you consider all the costs associated with a lawsuit, mediation is a bargain. The parties are free of all the costs associated with attorney fees a trial, and as a bonus- you get certainty.

Remember, trials are unpredictable. No one can guess what a jury (or even a judge) may decide. Mediators’ fees are almost always split between the parties; you’ll know the fee your mediator will charge prior to the mediation.

Why You Should Hire Me as Your Mediator
With extensive knowledge of Business Law and with four decades of experience as an accomplished business owner, I bring in-depth insight on key complexities and issues that can derail a corporation if they are not resolved amicably.

My main areas of expertise include, but are not limited to:

  • Pre-suit disputes
  • County, Civil mediations for contracts, landlord/tenant disputes, intellectual property, internet, foreclosures, personal injury, to name a few.
  • Alternative conflict resolution.
  • Business and Contractual law

In the business world, even the smallest issues can take on devastating proportions if they are not resolved in a timely and cordial and mutually beneficial manner. Whether it involves contractual obligations or issues between investors, vendors, employees or creditors, I have the business experience and extensive knowledge into the corporate legal framework to make a positive difference.

Besides streamlining the mediation process, my expertise saves time. Think about it. Would you rather spend more time negotiating terms or explaining basic terms to the mediator? With a skilled and certified Business Mediator, you can expedite these meetings without incurring extra costs.

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Workplace

3 Rules to Prevent Conflict Mismanagement

The most difficult requirement of leadership is effectively managing conflict. Whether you have had training or not, when you mismanage conflict, you put your company in jeopardy.

In the US government’s 2020 fiscal year, there were 67,448 workplace discrimination charged, resulting in $106 million in damages through litigation. This does not damages granted by state and district courts. Separately, a 2015 analysis found that the average cost to a small or medium-sized company for defense and settlement was $125,000, with the average case taking nearly 10 months to resolve itself.

Company costs aside, the personal cost to you could be your job. By the time attorneys get involved, the path of least resistance is to fire you. Here are three rules to make sure you do not mismanage conflict.

Rule No. 1: No blindsides

A common problem I see is when a manager does not let his or her boss know about the conflicts brewing in the department. The midlevel manager keeps “moving the chess pieces,” — i.e., shuffling time schedules or moving high-conflict employees to different departments, making promises or unprincipled deals to keep the complainer quiet and avoid looking incompetent to their superior.

But the effects of being blindsided are more significant than a little embarrassment. Once a disgruntled (and ignored) employee files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, things get messy. I can guarantee that blame rolls downhill. When you are in over your head, it is tempting to keep your problems to yourself and try to negotiate deals with employees but that is the worst thing you can do.

What to do: Go to your boss and fess up. Ask for coaching and advice. Make sure you have documented all the strategies you have tried so far. Own your mistakes, no matter what they are, and ask for help — not just for protecting yourself but also for the organization.

Rule No. 2: Stop avoiding

Let us face it, conflict does not feel good, and we tend to avoid situations that make us feel bad. But every time you avoid a difficult conversation, you wire your brain to avoid it. Then you lose trust in yourself and respect from your employees.

Many avoiders know they are conflict-averse, but many appeasers just think they are “being nice” Appeasers make promises they will not keep. They agree outwardly when inwardly they disagree.

Then there are the aggressors. Aggressors retaliate, and say things like, “I didn’t ask you to work here.” Often those who are aggressive think they are good at addressing conflict. They brag and say things like, “The buck stops here.” What they really mean is that they know how to avoid real conversations without it being called avoidance.

The point is, they are every bit as uncomfortable with conflict as the person who mismanages in other ways. They just have a different method of operation.

What to do instead: Address conflict head-on, without all the emotion of avoidance, appeasing or aggression. Clearly identify the situation by answering the question: What is happening that should not be happening? Once you have answered that question, now you can identify the key players involved, and how the issue affects the business.

Keep it professional and keep the emotions at bay so you do not have to avoid, appease, or use aggression to address the issue.

Rule No. 3: Understand your culture

If you were hired to “right the ship,” but the senior leaders have a habit of avoiding, you are eventually going to be the scapegoat. One reason senior executives complain about having to micromanage their managers is that they override those managers’ decisions.

As a result, managers are afraid to make decisions that make them look incompetent. There could be an ineffective policy manual or a lack of a clear decision-making process. Or the senior managers are conflict-averse, and they struggle to support a manager who is willing to discipline and go by the books.

No matter how willing and skilled a middle manager is with conflict management if the upper level is conflict-averse, they will not be a fit for the organization, and their efforts will be thwarted.

What to do: Before deciding where you must discipline or course-correct, discuss with your upper level, and be prepared to show where your decision aligns with the company values and policy manual. Get verbal support before acting. If you see a history of avoidance, you have some tough decisions to make about how to address the core issue. Do not be deceived. No matter what you were told when you were hired, you will not change the culture without support at the top.

Conclusion

Conflict is not necessarily detrimental to an organization, but mismanagement is. With the right cultural support, some skills, and a few guiding rules, conflict can be a catalyst for collaboration and leadership growth.

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Development

What is Conflict Resolution, and How Does It Work?

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

How to manage conflict at work through conflict resolution

If you work with others, sooner or later you will almost inevitably face the need for conflict resolution. You may need to mediate a dispute between two members of your department. Or you may find yourself angered by something a colleague reportedly said about you in a meeting. Or you may need to engage in conflict resolution with a client over a missed deadline. In organizations, conflict is inevitable, and good conflict management tools are essential.

What is conflict resolution, and how can you use it to settle disputes in your workplace?

Conflict resolution can be defined as the informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute.

Several common cognitive and emotional traps, many of them unconscious, can exacerbate conflict and contribute to the need for conflict resolution:

  • Self-serving fairness interpretations.Rather than deciding what is fair from a position of neutrality, we interpret what would be most fair to us, then justify this preference on the bases of fairness. For example, department heads are likely to each think they deserve the lion’s share of the annual budget. Disagreements about what’s fairlead to clashes.
  • Overconfidence.We tend to be overconfident in our judgments, a tendency that leads us to unrealistic expectations. Disputants are likely to be overconfident about their odds of winning a lawsuit, for instance, an error that can lead them to shun a negotiated settlement that would save them time and money.
  • Escalation of commitment.Whether negotiators are dealing with a labor strike, a merger, or an argument with a colleague, they are likely to irrationally escalate their commitment to their chosen course of action, long after it has proven useful. We desperately try to recoup our past investments in a dispute (such as money spent on legal fees), failing to recognize that such “sunk costs” should play no role in our decisions about the future.
  • Conflict avoidance.Because negative emotions cause us discomfort and distress, we may try to tamp them down, hoping that our feelings will dissipate with time. In fact, conflict tends to become more entrenched, and parties have a greater need for conflict resolution when they avoid dealing with their strong emotions.

Given these and other pitfalls, how can you set up a constructive conflict resolution process when dealing with conflict at work and other realms? Conflicts can be resolved in a variety of ways, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

  • Negotiation.In conflict resolution, you can and should draw on the same principles of collaborative negotiation that you use in deal-making. For example, you should aim to explore the interests underlying parties’ positions, such as a desire to resolve a dispute without attracting negative publicity or to repair a damaged business relationship. In addition, determine your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA—what you will do if you fail to reach an agreement, such as finding a new partner or filing a lawsuit. By brainstorming options and looking for tradeoffs across issues, you may be able to negotiate a satisfactory outcome to your dispute without the aid of outside parties.
  • Mediation.In mediation, disputants enlist a trained, neutral third party to help them come to a consensus. Rather than imposing a solution, a professional mediator encourages disputants to explore the interests underlying their positions. Working with parties both together and separately, mediators seek to help them discover a resolution that is sustainable, voluntary, and nonbinding.
  • Arbitration.In arbitration, which can resemble a court trial, a neutral third party serves as a judge who makes decisions to end the dispute. The arbitrator listens to the arguments and evidence presented by each side, then renders a binding and often confidential decision. Although disputants typically cannot appeal an arbitrator’s decision, they can negotiate most aspects of the arbitration process, including whether lawyers will be present and which standards of evidence will be used.
  • Litigation.In civil litigation, a defendant and a plaintiff face off before either a judge or a judge and jury, who weigh the evidence and make a ruling. Information presented in hearings and trials usually enters the public record. Lawyers typically dominate litigation, which often ends in a negotiated settlement during the pretrial period.

In general, it makes sense to start off less-expensive, less-formal conflict resolution procedures, such as negotiation and mediation, before making the larger commitments of money and time that arbitration and litigation often demand. Conflict-resolution training can further enhance your ability to negotiate satisfactory resolutions to your disputes.

Written by: R. Erickson

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Development

Executive Coaching: Effective Conflict Resolution

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

Executive coaching has become an investment that continues to provide a host of benefits for organizations of all sizes, both small and large. By addressing numerous critical elements of successful leadership, executive coaching boosts key leadership qualities and leads to a more productive workplace. Coaching skills acquired by leaders offer multi-level benefits.

In today’s dynamic environment, leaders, managers, and executives are expected to exhibit effective leadership, accountability and team change management skills. When business leaders drive performance from an empowered place in leadership and accountability, they become more confident to make critical decisions, as well as interact with and lead their teams. For example, Retention Coaching skills can help to encourage loyalty to an organization and boost employee retention. At the same time, when leaders are supported and provided with further growth opportunities in their soft skills, they feel a greater sense of connection and commitment to the organization at large. By learning highly effective coaching competencies, leaders become more resourceful and equipped to encourage open communication, setting the stage for a positive work environment.

Employee Development  

By learning proven coaching tools, a general manager, for example, can deeply enhance their communication skills, and consequently, help the organization to boost its team communication at large. Leaders who practice coaching skills display a better Emotional Intelligence and have positively influential social skills. These leaders can communicate effectively, which means they can lead without coming across as dominating; they are good at negotiating for the benefit of all parties involved: they can significantly boost team performance, combining their negotiation and leadership skills to meet the company’s short and long-term goals.

Team Efficiency  

On top of developing effective leaders and managers, coaching competencies can improve the function of a team, department, and entire organization. Leaders with coaching skills are well equipped to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each employee both on an individual and team level. This allows the organization to plan the resources at hand strategically and keep things working as they should.

Conflict Management   

One of the key values that leaders with coaching skills offer is an alternative way of resolving disputes in the workplace. Managers, executives, supervisors, team leaders and CEOs require a range of skills to perform their leadership functions while minimizing tensions resulting from conflict avoiding Conflict, providing ineffective and perfunctory responses and taking biased measures to resolve disputes are common unsatisfactory ways that leaders without coaching skills commonly use to address workplace conflict.

The consequences of addressing conflict in this way often produce adverse effects on the organization’s bottom line. When dealt with ineffectively, stress, anxiety, anger, and other related emotions can negatively impact productivity, employee, and team satisfaction.

As a tool for conflict management and resolution, executive coaching provides leaders with efficient ways to address issues with both short and long-term benefits. More specifically, coaching skills help leaders to enhance or develop:

  • An insight into their habitual dispute resolution style and triggers that may be inefficient or counterproductive
  • Their personal communication skills and preferences for addressing conflict
  • Effective ways to address the root cause of a conflict as opposed to focusing on the symptoms
  • Ways to identify their own needs and those of their team members, with respect to the issue in dispute
  • Their existing skills in resolving conflict in conciliatory and productive ways
  • The confidence and ability to consider a wide range of options to resolve conflicts
  • Alternative ways to replace counterproductive and habitual behaviors
  • A sense of the quality of life at work and overall sense of well-being, resulting from improved relationships and extra skills that can be applied in other problem-solving situations, and reduced stress and anger.
  • Methods of effective and constructive dispute resolution that offer a greater insight into conflict origins

With the right support in skills development, leaders in organizations can create a coaching workplace culture by building greater self-awareness and developing individual interpersonal skills. By utilizing coaching skills, leaders can build conflict resilience and facilitate more satisfactory employee relationships, especially in situations where conflict has been a chronic problem in the team environment. It goes without saying that conflict costs time, money, energy, morale and adversely impact an organization. When leaders learn how to leverage coaching tools, they can formulate effective ways to prevent and resolve conflict, resulting in a healthier and more productive team environment.

Biography

Patrick Cioffi is the founder of Inspired Mediation & Arbitration Services (IMA) and is a Florida Supreme Court Certified County Mediator and a Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator.  

He is also trained in Circuit Civil, Family and Elder Care Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

The firm is committed to providing exceptional professional services to assist parties to maximize the ultimate benefit of mediation, as the parties are in control of the outcome.

Mr. Cioffi is effective in working with people and their attorneys to evaluate their positions, explore viable agreement options and create solutions that are mutually acceptable and agreeable to the parties.

He is a career businessman with expertise in Contract Negotiations, Corporate and Organizational Development, Sales, Marketing, Intellectual Property, Business Strategies, Finance, Technology Solutions and Computer Software Logic.

In addition, he has operated in 23-vertical markets including but not limited to, Hard-goods, Soft-goods, Construction, Tenant/Landlord, Business, Publishing, Finance, and Corporate and Employment disputes.

Due to his more than 45-years of business experience, he brings to the mediation and arbitration process an understanding of the issues, concerns, and complexities inherent in business matters. His hands-on and unbiased approach combined with impeccable listening skills gives him the unique ability to zero-in on the root issues. Thus, saving valuable time and money on the part of the parties.

His view of a successful negotiation and conclusion of all matters is when both people agree and walk-away feeling that they have accomplished their goals and have resolved their issues, respectfully.

Written by: R. Erickson

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Mediation

Understanding the different ways men and women deal with conflict will strengthen your operation

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

Where there are relationships, there will be conflict, it is an inevitable part of interpersonal dynamics, and learning to resolve conflict is a crucial part of successful relationships both at home and at work. Many people will just keep quiet rather than express their viewpoint to avoid conflict, which is a great shame because by doing so we might miss out on an exciting new idea. Conflict is not always a destructive force, sometimes when we are forced to find a compromise between wildly different ideas and viewpoints, that energy provides a spark for great innovation. Conflict, like necessity, can be the mother of invention.

The way we deal with conflict is both fascinating and hugely diverse. It is dependent upon our sense of self, whether we had domineering parents or not and how they dealt with conflict, our social group, whether we have siblings and whether these siblings are older or younger than us, our genetics, and a whole host of other factors. Now add to the mix our gender and the gender mix in the workplace and it gets even more interesting!

Men are from Mars…

As with all elements of our personalities, there appears to be a masculine-feminine continuum, along which, all of us lie when it comes to confrontation and conflict resolution. From the shouting match, in your face, about to come to blows approach to the “if I talk about this immediately I might cry, which I REALLY do not want to do as it might undermine me” response. Conflict is often such an emotional experience that unless it is carefully dealt with, objectivity flies out of the window very quickly.

It is an absolute minefield when labeling things masculine and feminine and some people would fight to the death rather than be classified into one camp or other when it comes to emotional responses. The example of trying not to cry might sound sexist but ask any woman if she can relate to it and she will have been there at least once in her lifetime. Men can get frustrated by it and might even consider it a sign of weakness, but it is actually the sympathetic nervous system (the ‘fight or flight’ system) activating in response to feeling angry or frustrated. For some, yet, unknown reason, in women it more often cascades down the crying pathway than it does in men. Interestingly, tears also contain a natural painkiller, (leucine enkephalin), which could also factor into the response.

Humans are emotional creatures. We care about our opinions and how people view them, and it is exceedingly difficult to switch those emotions off and Zen Master ourselves out of an overreaction.

It takes two to tantrum

Another important issue is that it is not just about where you lie on the continuum, but where the other person in the conflict lies too. If one is a shouter and behaves aggressively and the other is a conflict avoider, then a good resolution is doomed. What often happens is that Shouty feels that they “won” because it ended as soon as they had their say, while the other keeps quiet or walks away, but will then tell anyone who will listen just how awful Shouty is, searching for the empathy that they feel that they should have received at the time. That is possibly the worse kind of outcome as it breeds negativity and can lead to people taking sides, widening the initial conflict even further.

Are we biochemically predisposed to bear grudges?

Interestingly, whilst men can often be more aggressive than women (mostly because they have higher levels of testosterone), many studies have shown that men tend to make peace more quickly after a conflict and are less likely to bear a grudge afterward. The same behaviors have been shown in male chimps too. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense as men would have had to resolve fights and re-affirm their allegiance quickly and be ready to defend their tribe against rivals and hunt effectively together. Pride is soon over-ridden when life depends on it.

Women, on the other hand, are often accused of being over-emotional and over-thinking things, which can prolong peace-making, but again a degree of this makes sense when you look at their role in the ancient tribe. Women shared child care duties with some of the other females in the group and so developed higher levels of empathy and sympathy than males, both to facilitate nurturing but also to allow them to be shrewd when it came to working out who to trust.

The problem arises when men and women cannot understand or appreciate the different ways in which they handle conflict, and miscommunication leads to damaging interactions.

When people feel that their emotional response is being trivialized or that their hurt feelings are not being appreciated, the conflict is more likely to descend into something negative and destructive. This is where empathy, compassion, and patience must be employed, often by a manager or a third-party mediator who is not directly involved in the dispute. Resolving conflicts in a positive way can be learned and taught, enriching teams and relationships and moving everyone forward.

How an organization handles conflict is an important and often over-looked part of its culture, which left neglected could undermine even the strongest of organizations.

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conflict resolution
Mediation

The Five Steps to Conflict Resolution

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

The definition of conflict resolution is to resolve an issue or problem between two or more people, but is there a correct way to handle conflict? What are the effects of poor conflict management? Disagreements in the workplace are inevitable, as employees have different personalities, goals, and opinions. Conflict management is one of our core areas of expertise. Learning how to handle disputes efficiently is a necessary skill for anyone in management and the key to preventing it from hindering employees’ professional growth. Here is the conflict resolution process in five steps

Step 1: Define the source of the conflict.

The more information you have about the cause of the problem, the more easily you can help to resolve it. To get the information you need, use a series of questions to identify the cause, like, “When did you feel upset?” “Do you see a relationship between that and this incident?” “How did this incident begin?”

As a manager or supervisor, you need to give both parties the chance to share their side of the story. It will give you a better understanding of the situation, as well as demonstrate your impartiality. As you listen to each disputant, say, “I see” or “uh huh” to acknowledge the information and encourage them to continue to open to you.

Step 2: Look beyond the incident.

Often, it is not the situation but the point of view of the situation that causes anger to fester and ultimately leads to a shouting match or other visible and disruptive result.

The source of the conflict might be a minor issue that occurred months before, but the level of stress has grown to the point where the two parties have begun attacking each other personally instead of addressing the real problem. In the calm of your office, you can get them to look beyond the triggering incident to see the real cause. Once again, probing questions will help, like, “What do you think happened here?” or “When do you think the problem between you first arose?

Step 3: Request solutions.

After getting each party’s viewpoint, the next step is to get them to identify how the situation could be changed. Again, question the parties to solicit their ideas: “How can you make things better between you?” As a mediator, you must be an active listener, aware of every verbal nuance, as well as a good reader of body language

You want to get the disputants to stop fighting and start cooperating, and that means steering the discussion away from finger-pointing and toward ways of resolving the conflict.

Step 4: Identify solutions both disputants can support.

You are listening for the most acceptable course of action. Point out the merits of various ideas, not only from each other’s perspective but in terms of the benefits to the organization. For instance, you might suggest the need for greater cooperation and collaboration to effectively address team issues and departmental problems.

Step 5: Agreement.

The mediator needs to get the two parties to shake hands and accept one of the alternatives identified in Step 4. The goal is to reach a negotiated agreement. Some mediators go as far as to write up a contract in which actions and time frames are specified. However, it might be sufficient to meet with the individuals and have them answer these questions: “What action plans will you both put in place to prevent conflicts from arising in the future?” and “What will you do if problems arise in the future?

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conflict resolution
Mediation

What is Conflict Resolution, and How Does It Work?

Submitted by Patrick Cioffi

How to manage conflict at work through conflict resolution

Conflict resolution can be defined as the informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute.

Several common cognitive and emotional traps, many of them unconscious, can exacerbate conflict and contribute to the need for conflict resolution:

Self-serving Fairness Interpretations: Rather than deciding what’s fair from a position of neutrality, we interpret what would be most fair to us, then justify this preference on the bases of fairness. For example, department heads are likely to each think they deserve the lion’s share of the annual budget. Disagreements about what’s fairlead to clashes.

Overconfidence: We tend to be overconfident in our judgments, a tendency that leads us to unrealistic expectations. Disputants are likely to be overconfident about their odds of winning a lawsuit, for instance, an error that can lead them to shun a negotiated settlement that would save them time and money.

Escalation of Commitment: Whether negotiators are dealing with a labor strike, a merger, or an argument with a colleague, they are likely to irrationally escalate their commitment to their chosen course of action, long after it has proven useful. We desperately try to recoup our past investments in a dispute (such as money spent on legal fees), failing to recognize that such “sunk costs” should play no role in our decisions about the future.

Conflict Avoidance: Because negative emotions cause us discomfort and distress, we may try to eliminate them, hoping that our feelings will dissipate with time. In fact, conflict tends to become more entrenched, and parties have a greater need for conflict resolution when they avoid dealing with their strong emotions.

Given these and other pitfalls, how can you set up a constructive conflict resolution when dealing with conflict at work and other realms? Conflicts can be resolved in a variety of ways, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

Negotiation: In conflict resolution, you can and should draw on the same principles of collaborative negotiation that you use in deal-making. For example, you should aim to explore the interests underlying parties’ positions, such as a desire to resolve a dispute without attracting negative publicity or to repair a damaged business relationship. In addition, determine your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA—what you will do if you fail to reach an agreement, such as finding a new partner or filing a lawsuit. By brainstorming options and looking for tradeoffs across issues, you may be able to negotiate a satisfactory outcome to your dispute without the aid of outside parties.

Mediation: In mediation, disputants enlist a trained, neutral third party to help them come to a consensus. Rather than imposing a solution, a professional mediator encourages disputants to explore the interests underlying their positions. Working with parties both together and separately, mediators seek to help them discover a resolution that is sustainable, voluntary, and nonbinding.

Arbitration: In arbitration, which can resemble a court trial, a neutral third party serves as a judge who makes decisions to end the dispute. The arbitrator listens to the arguments and evidence presented by each side, then renders a binding and often confidential decision. Although disputants typically cannot appeal an arbitrator’s decision, they can negotiate most aspects of the arbitration process, including whether lawyers will be present and which standards of evidence will be used.

Litigation: In civil litigation, a defendant and a plaintiff face off before either a judge or a judge and jury, who weigh the evidence and make a ruling. Information presented in hearings and trials usually enters the public record. Lawyers typically dominate litigation, which often ends in a negotiated settlement during the pretrial period.

In general, it makes sense to start off with a less expensive and less-formal conflict resolution process, such as negotiation and mediation, before making the larger commitments of money and time that arbitration, litigation and a trial often demand.

What conflict resolution methods have you tried before? Leave us a comment.

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