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How Mediation Skills Promote Psychological Safety at Work – Personal Challenges for Leaders

Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills

This page looks at the importance of effective communication skills in supporting the resolution of conflict.

So what are the skills used to achieve this?

These 3 articles on Listening, Summarising and Questioning have featured on the Mediate.com website - an internationally renowned website carrying articles from Mediators around the world.

They are:




Simple huh?

Well, in a way they are, but unfortunately the ways in which these skills are used are often not mindful of the Principles of Effective Interpersonal Communication or the Underlying Philosophies of Mediation and so their impact is greatly reduced.

This means that both the effectiveness of conflict resolution and the success of the communication are less than they could be.

But remember the 9th Principle of Effective Communication? That it is ok to make mistakes.

We can also remember that one of the Underlying Philosophies of Mediation is to take a No-blame approach.

If we bear both of these in mind it means we can drop the debilitating self-criticism or energy sapping criticism of others. We can also save the energy we might normally use defending ourselves against blame.

We can instead direct that energy towards learning what could have been done differently and to develop our capacity to communicate or respond to conflict more effectively.

We can start to simply observe our day to day practices when we are in communication, and/or in conflict, and refer to the practices and approaches described on this website and start to develop and improve our ability to respond more effectively.

We can improve our response-ability and start to realise that we can also take responsibility for the effectiveness of our communication and the effectiveness of our responses to conflicts.

When we start to take Ownership of this we have started to empower ourselves, instead of disempowering ourselves by expecting others to change, or even trying to make them change. Even if we believe we have succeeded in making others change in a conflict situation, we are back to the boiling pot analogy. It is conflict suppression, not conflict resolution.

The top of the pot will blow off again, in the near future or in the distant future.

The considered, mindfully practiced effective communication skills of listening, summarising and questioning enable us to take the lid off the pot, let out the steam and start to see what's inside.

Sometimes it even turns out to be something quite tasty.


- - Summarising - - Questioning

Contemplations on Communication and Conflict - A FREE e-book

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Visit our

Podcast Page CAOS

on iTunes

CAOTICA Podcast about communication, conflict resolution, mediation.

Join our new 

ONLINE Introduction to Conflict Coaching Skills 

(6 x 2 hour sessions on Zoom)

Learn about the CAOS Model of Conflict Coaching, the first to be developed in the UK in 2008 and one that does not have to be connected to ongoing mediation but can be simply a 'stand alone' support service for individuals. 

Open to non-UK attendees - visit the link above for more details and to register your interest.

Dealing with bullying at work

Alan Sharland has written a vital book on bullying. His approach is the way forward. Instead of focusing on 'proving it', which takes us in the direction of investigations and hearings that go no where and only serve to exacerbate an already sensitive situation, he shows the way forward through direct communication and a focus on the behavior that is of concern. At times the support of an internal workplace mediator will help. John Ford, previously Editor of Mediate.com and Director of HR Mediation Academy

Train to be a Mediator in London, UK with CAOS Conflict Management.

A Guide to Effective Communication for Conflict Resolution

A Guide to Effective Communication for Conflict Resolution introduces the 9 Principles that are also described on this site to help the reader develop a 'mindfulness' in relation to their communication in a way that supports the resolution of conflict. In this book

Alan shares his observations and learnings from working as a Mediator and Conflict Coach with regard to the ways that people become stuck in unresolved conflict but also how they go on to create more effective ways forward in their difficult situations. 

"I think you put together so well all the essential components of
conflict transformation in a way which people can relate to and
understand. A brilliant book and I will recommend it to everyone." Jo Berry  www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org

Some more comments about this site.....

Hi Alan

It is refreshing to find reading material that informs and inspires and can provide a good resource for small organisations such as ours.

Anne Johnston - The Shropshire Housing Alliance Mediation Service

I did a 1 hour workshop where I presented your Facts and Feelings Listening Exercise. We learned so much about how we listen and the consequences of not listening well that I was asked to purchase your book and have another Listening Meeting.

My team just launched a project that could have whipped the team members and executives into a tremendous conflict. I required everyone to follow your rules for listening and it has been the best implementation we have had in 10years.

Thank you for your generous and comprehensive communications and conflict resolution information.

Angela - Information Technology & Systems VP

'What is a Bully?' Comment on article by Alan which was published on the Mediate.com website

Thank you SO MUCH for this article! It brings forward some very key points about the phenomenon of "bullying" which I have been pondering for some while. Among others, asking to what extent can/should the person on the receiving end of the bullying/perceived to be bullying take responsibility/initiate steps to shift the paradigm? How can this happen without implying that the recipient is somehow responsible for the bullying behavior?

To a certain extent the steps you suggest point to the strategies of NonViolent Communication: Observe and simply describe the behavior, understand and honor your own feelings and needs in the situation, and take responsibility for meeting them by making requests to change the situation.

There has been a significant upsurge of email traffic about bullying in the last year among the members of the Int'l. Ombudsman's Association (principally the academic sector). Much of the exchange, in my view, has tended to favor the stance of "recipient of the behavior as victim," without agency to change the situation, thereby perpetuating the problem and doing a disservice to all. I will be forwarding this article to my colleagues to spice up the conversation!

Laurie McCann, Campus Ombuds, Univ Calif Santa Cruz