No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We have to think with a new mind. ~ Albert Einstein
In the broadest sense of the word, “conflict” is…any situation in which one person’s concerns or desires differ from those of another person and appear to be incompatible. Conflict is inevitable, but how we handle it is a choice. That’s true whether we’re dealing with conflict in our private lives (with our partner, children, other family members, friends) or in our work lives (with our colleagues or other professionals).
While most people have heard of divorce mediation, far fewer are aware that mediation can also be extremely helpful in discussing difficult issues that arise with respect to elder parents and their adult children.
There are many concerns that need to be addressed as a parent ages.
By their very nature, family businesses can be especially challenging to manage successfully. First, there are the normal (and not so normal) demands and pressures of running a business. But then, superimpose on that the complex relational issues that arise within a family structure . . . and you have the makings of what could potentially be a very difficult work environment.
I published an article recently about marital mediation in the context of couples who have been working with a family or couples therapist. Since this is such an important and little understood subject, I would like to take the opportunity to explain this process from a broader perspective.
During the month of October, people in the U.S. and abroad celebrate the field of dispute resolution in all its many forms. On October 8th, I participated in a kick-off event at the NY City Bar Association for Mediation Settlement Day 2013.
The honorary chair and keynote speaker was Kenneth Feinberg, Esq. Mr. Feinberg’s name will be familiar to many. He served as Special Master of the U.S. government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Very little has been written to date about an intriguing and ‘new’ use of mediation in the family setting. Most people have heard about divorce mediation, which gives divorcing couples the opportunity to reach agreements about their property, parenting and support without having to go through a litigated (contested) divorce. The mediator, who is neutral, facilitates the conversations the couple needs to have, and helps them brainstorm options – enabling them to come up with better, win-win solutions for themselves and their children.
In my last blog article, I discussed the role of Active Listening in conflict resolution. The importance of Active Listening cannot be overstated. It is only when both people listen in this way that they can begin shifting from their hard positions to more constructive ground where they are able to meet their own needs as well as those of the other person.
The way you listen – or do not listen – to someone directly impacts the outcome of your conversation with that person, especially if your points of view are divergent. There are two levels of listening that take place when you are in conversation with another person.
There are two principal aspects to the role a mediator plays when helping couples resolve their issues during mediation. One relates to the substance and the other has to do with the process itself. Substance refers to the issues that must be addressed and resolved when a couple is separating or divorcing. Process relates to the ground rules that are established, and then how the conversations take place and move along, ultimately to resolution. Each is equally important, in its own right. Two earlier blog articles (Issues & Additional Issues in Divorce Mediations) described the specific issues that need to be discussed in divorce mediation.
Many issues come up in divorce mediation, but one of the most challenging for the mediator and the couple is when there appears to be a power imbalance. There are two areas where this issue comes up most frequently: one is with financial matters and the other is with intimidating and aggressive behavior by one by the parties.