Tuesday, February 10, 2009 by Dave Blum

Before moving on to my other favorite topics (team building ideas, scavenger hunt lists, treasure hunt clues, etc.) I’d like to take a quick second to explore further the mediation process from yesterday’s blogpost.  As you’ll recall, we had two guys on a volleyball court, both sure that the other fellow was playing spitefully, unfairly, and vindictively.

The first step in conflict resolution:  State the fact that there’s a problem (and get confirmation).
–“Something strange is going on here.  Am I right?”
–“Something seems to be up between you guys.  Would you agree?”

The second step:  Discover the storyline.
–“From my perspective, it seems like you’re running the storyline that…”
–“What’s the story between your guys?”

The third step:  Point out the similarities.
–“So your storyline is that he’s the ‘bad guy’ and you’re the good guy.  I’d bet that he’s running the same storyline.”
–“As much as you see yourself as the victim and her as the villain, she undoubtedly sees herself in exactly the same light…the victim to your villain.”

The fourth step:  Emphasize the implications of this storyline.
–“If the current storyline continues, would you agree that it’s likely to just escalate?”
–“If the story goes on like this, do you see how unpleasant it’ll be for you and for everyone else?”
–“If this scenario plays out any further, can you imagine how poorly everyone’s performance will suffer, including your own?”

The fifth step:  Ask for an end to the storyline.
–“So how about taking the high road and dropping the storyline?”
–“Neither of you are victims, heroes or villains.  You’re just two guys trying to do your job and have some fun.  Whadya say you both put the drama behind you, re-set and move on?”
Does this process work everytime?  I wish!  But at least it gets the “protagonists” talking, rather than simply “acting out”. And perhaps more importantly, it gets them thinking about the effect their conflict is having on the people around them. Once aware of the impact of their actions, few “heroes” would wish to pursue their quest at the expense of destroying the community.