In 2018, my compatriot Fredy Kofman published the book "The Conscious Business", and revolutionized the corporate world. In his best seller, the author offers a detailed explanation of the joint work to be done to develop collective consciousness and achieve positive change in the company.
In this invitation to a positive change, and because he does not mention it specifically, I wonder where mediators (and other conflict solvers) are placed in the challenge posed by PhD Kofman.
The book contains a chapter, called "Constructive Negotiation", dedicated to analyzing the conflict and proposing a structured methodology to adopt new collaborative practices when resolving disputes, being them regarding personal preferences or dilemmas, problems between people or when they involve a decision that will alter the corresponding allocation of resources of each of the parties. In this same chapter, he mentions the inevitability of conflict, the importance of resolving it, and how harmful it can be to end it in the wrong way. His constructive proposal is to resolve conflicts based on awareness of one's own needs, respect for the wishes of the other, exploration of commonalities, a proposal for creative solutions and an achieved sustainable consent.
This chapter makes a clear call to “troubleshooters.” In the important quality of negotiating constructively, mediators can contribute radically to help the company or organization transform itself to obtain what Kofman calls "success beyond success," which is a maximum level of excellence.
Mediation is especially relevant as the method that unlocks negotiations. In negotiation, it is common to see the typical position of "I ask for everything because I know that I will have to give something" and on the other side "I offer nothing because I know that I will have to give something." A neutral third party is the right person to be able to get the parties out of polarized positions. Among various skills, the mediator is characterized by the speed in acquiring the technical knowledge necessary to discuss the problem and in understanding what the underlying problem is. Both qualities are especially useful when the mediator is called to intervene in negotiations that have already begun. This type of intermediary also has the ability to build communication bridges (there is also a chapter in the book called authentic communication) and identify common ground that even the most expert negotiators do not find. Moreover, a mediator makes use of a particularly useful tool in complex negotiations, the “shuttle diplomacy”, which allows to converse separately with the negotiators and discover fertile grounds to seek solutions for the benefit of both. The latter is of the utmost importance for maintaining labor relations or even restoring commercial relations between the company and the clients. Some mediators even provide training so that management and the workers themselves can be better prepared when it comes to sitting at a negotiating table and being able to resolve less complex disputes that inevitably arise in everyday work.
In order to contribute to “the conscious business”, employees, bosses and directors of the organization, need, to become "conscious" by acquiring the qualities of: unconditional responsibility, essential integrity and ontological humility (attributes of the personality), authentic communication, constructive negotiation and impeccable coordination (interpersonal skills), and the one that makes all of the above possible: emotional mastery. With this valuable proposal, some questions may arise such as: How do we resolve urgent conflicts while learning constructive negotiation? How do we prevent disputes? Who can provide us with tools to hold difficult conversations, negotiate without compromising our values, and manage emotions in the face of a disagreement in my work team? How do we transform conflict situations into opportunities for collaborative work while doing our strenuous tasks?
There is a possible answer that I have already advanced: Trusting mediators as excellent allies for any organization that seeks to achieve a harmonious work environment, accomplish results at the negotiation tables, improve performance and increase its benefits.