When relationships get toxic

We’ll all have experience of disagreements and tensions at work – differences over the way work is organised, people that rub each other up the wrong way, misunderstandings about the motives behind someone’s behaviour. Most of the time we can take the rough with the smooth, recognising that any collaborative relationship will get into difficulties from time to time.

But what happens when those everyday disagreements turn into intractable disputes? Significant amounts of time and energy can be expended by line managers and HR teams trying to get a resolution. Team members can  be drawn into taking sides, and effort and attention gets diverted away from the proper focus of the team.

At times like this it can help to bring in an experienced mediator, someone who can facilitate a solution-focused conversation between the parties to the dispute. Mediation is a voluntary process through which those in dispute make an agreement in order to improve their working relationship, with the help of an impartial facilitator.

An agreement frame of mind

We think that for mediation to succeed, both parties need to have an “intention to agree”, by which we mean:

  1. a willingness to explain what actions or changes in the other person's behaviour would satisfy them
  2. a willingness to consider the expectations of the other party
  3. an expectation that an agreement will require changes from both parties

Mediation in practice

Usually mediation starts by each person having a one-to-one session with the mediator. If both parties are willing to continue with the process, the next step is a three-way meeting, at which each person can set out their side of the story, and identify the issues that from their perspective need resolving. For some, this will be the first time that they've had an open conversation with the other person – or at least one that is kept constructive.

If all goes well, the mediation meeting concludes with an agreement for dealing with the issues raised by each party, an agreement that can be revisited in a follow-up meeting some weeks later.

Like to know more?

If you’d like an informal chat about how mediation might help you or your organisation, take a few minutes to get in touch.

contact us now to find out how we can help

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