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Mediate.com

Facilitator Tips

by Jeff Thompson
October 2009

From Jeff Thompson's Enjoy Mediation Blog

Jeff Thompson
I recently came across Penn State's website and when searching "conflict resolution", I found this gem of a page.

It gives various tips and questions to consider when issues arise within a working group/team. The tips listed are easily transferable for a facilitator who is planning to bring a group together.

The set up is broken down into seven sections:

I Conflict Happens
II Clarify Expectations
III Types of Conflicts
IV Identify Team Needs
V Depersonalize Conflict
VI Structuring Discussion
VII Key Questions


A brief look into each section gives shows there is valuable information for all conflict resolvers:

I Conflict Happens
Most members of a team have to learn two fundamentals:
1. Having different opinions is one of the essential benefits of teamwork.
2. Team members have strong feelings and emotions. A team cannot achieve its full potential if all that is allowed is logic or information.


II Clarify Expectations
Stating expectations clearly will give the team a common ground to begin any discussion. Some ways to clarifying expectations include:
1. Developing a clear statement of team mission or purpose
2.
Ground rules governing participation, sharing of responsibilities
3. Agreement to
depersonalize conflicts

III Types of Conflicts
Internal conflict - An individual or team member is experiencing a personal conflict that may or may not be related to the team, but which is interfering with the person's ability to perform.
Individual conflict with one other team member - One team member is in conflict with another
Individual conflict with the entire team - One team member is experiencing conflict with the entire team


IV Identify Team Needs
Define the team's problem as a shared need. As a group:
1. Identify the causes.
2. Determine the criteria for a solution.Generate options.

V Depersonalize Conflict
During the problem-solving phase focus on issues not personalities. Use these guidelines to help depersonalize conflicts.
1. Encourage each side to objectively explain his or her bottom line requirements. When the team is determining a solution, each person's criteria should be evaluated.
2. Remind the team of ground rules while generating options such as "no criticizing statements by other people until all ideas are posted."

VI Structuring Discussion
Here is a structured way to handle conflicts:
1. Let each person state his or her view briefly.
2. Have neutral team members reflect on areas of agreement or disagreement.
3. Explore areas of disagreement for specific issues.


VII Key Questions
Questions that can help teams work through conflict:
1. What are we supposed to accomplish as a team?
2. What are each of our roles and responsibilities in accomplishing that goal?
3. Who and when do each of us need to get information from?


Again, the list above is not complete- it is just a short version. It you find it useful, click this [link] to read them all. If you are asking why not put the full list? The answer is basic web etiquette- not cutting and pasting someone else's entire work but rather displaying only a portion and linking to the original source.

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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