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Most of the conflict resolution strategies that work best focus on listening carefully. It is important to take notes, respond to needs, and avoid debate and further conflict. It often helps to separate the feuding parties for a little while to allow tempers to cool, and all conflict resolution strategies should focus on reaching a reasonable and feasible conclusion that will satisfy both parties. This will not always be easy, and it is essential to avoid a winner-and-loser mentality to ensure both sides feel respected and well attended to. In the workplace, specific conflicts may require intervention from the human resources department; conflict resolution strategies for sexual harassment, for example, will involve documenting and reporting the behavior immediately.
The first step in developing strong conflict resolution strategies is to learn to listen carefully with a sympathetic ear to both parties. In many cases, it is possible to identify with both parties involved without alienating the other party; this helps the mediator establish trust and a common bond with each party. It is important for the mediator to understand and appreciate the arguments of both sides while avoiding insults, harsh language, or judgments. The best mediator will work to maintain the trust and understanding of both parties without taking a side or alienating either party.
Remember that conflict resolution strategies should have a hierarchy: if a person's rights have been violated, such as in the case of sexual harassment, address those issues first. This may mean referring the case to human resources, or it may mean addressing both parties immediately and taking action. After a person's rights have been addressed, consider the needs of the two parties. This means addressing issues that may prevent one or both sides from working effectively, or from being able to function normally. This may include health issues. Finally, address the desires of both sides; office space may be an issue that arises based on the desires of one or both parties.
The biggest practice that both parties will appreciate is attentive listening. Be sure to address the concerns raised by each party, and ask clarifying questions to both indicate that the mediator is listening and to make sure the mediator understands the issue thoroughly. Mutual understanding and a compromise is what the mediator should be looking for, so he or she must understand the issue and how to appease both sides. Remember that compromise should be sought, and debate should be avoided during conflict resolution.
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