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Published On: Mon, Nov 13th, 2023

Becoming a Conflict Resolution and Mediation Expert: Your Path to Success

One constant of most industries, unfortunately, is conflict. When people are working together, conflict and a need for thoughtful mediation will eventually arise. As such, the need for talented conflict resolution and mediation experts will always be present. 

photo/ Tumisu via pixabay

Becoming a successful conflict resolution and mediation expert involves employing a number of particular strategies and considerations. Whether you want to become a conflict resolution resource for your company or strike out on your own as a consultant, following these strategies — and the guidance of other leaders in the industry — can help you quickly address and resolve issues to help keep businesses moving forward conflict-free. 

It’s about character 

As Director of the Moneybackers Division at Cyberbacker, a leader in the virtual assistant space, Joselle Lazada is a conflict resolution specialist and has been involved in several mediation opportunities throughout her career. She looks at conflict resolution as a way to settle any disagreement peacefully. 

For Lazada, the path to becoming a successful conflict resolution and mediation expert is all about having the right character. “Empathy is incredibly important. As a leader, I always strive to stay engaged and involved, as well as understand and share the feelings of my team members,” says Lazada. “This is especially significant in the midst of conflict between team members or between leaders and their employees. Having an empathetic approach helps the mediator see each side as human beings with feelings.” 

According to Lazada, perseverance is also key. Some conflicts can’t be solved immediately, and it requires a degree of patience to identify the root cause of conflict and create a tenable solution. “I persevere and remain determined, despite difficulties and setbacks,” Lazada adds. “I focus on long-term goals, overcome difficulties, and don’t give up easily.”

Character-wise, resilience is another trait Lazada suggests building for those hoping to become mediators or conflict resolution experts. “You have to have a tough skin,” she says. “I bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and maintain a positive attitude in adversity. This allows me to stay emotionally and mentally strong, even during extremely difficult situations.”

Mediation vs. conflict resolution

Though they sound similar, there are distinct differences between mediation and conflict resolution. “Mediation is frequently faster, more affordable, and supervised by a dependable third party,” Lazada explains, “while conflict resolution manages conflict with the expectation for a breakthrough in communication toward a resolution.”

Both approaches seek to find resolutions to conflict or disagreement amicably, quickly, and without the need for judicial intervention or prolonged proceedings. It’s critical for those working as conflict resolution experts to try and find an agreeable end for both parties. While everyone may not get everything they want, they should still walk away feeling that they were heard and that there is no longer standing conflict, anger, or disagreement between parties.

Examples of disagreements that may be brought before a professional mediator vary, but can include family disputes over money, inheritance, land, or custody arrangements. They can also include community conflicts, such as neighborhood disputes, fights against an HOA board, or disagreements over the use of common areas. Mediators can also be brought in when there are lawsuit issues, such as tenant and landlord disputes. 

Within a workplace, disputes can arise over promotions, pay, harassment claims, or different work styles. In these cases, it’s up to the mediator to hear both sides and help the parties come to common ground.

“Some people think mediation doesn’t work, or that there are just some things that are beyond repair,” says Lazada. “The best solution always is to change their mindset by proper communication.”

Skills and tools 

In addition to the right mindset and personal character, there are skills that are imperative to conflict resolution and mediation success. “Those who want to follow this career path need to strengthen their communication and decision-making skills,” Lazada notes. In many cases, in-house dispute resolution can be a viable alternative to costly litigation, but only if the mediator is equipped with the right skills and tools to help all parties reach an effective agreement.

Additionally, Lazada stresses the importance of active listening and considering the concerns of everyone involved. Through active listening, the mediation expert can more easily address the root problem and quickly decide on the best course of action toward resolution. 

“Aspiring conflict resolution experts and mediators need to possess strong interpersonal skills, a solid understanding of conflict dynamics, and a willingness to invest in professional education and training,” says Lazada. “To be ultimately successful, the conflict resolution expert or mediator must build a diverse network of clients and cases through their work to gain practical experience in resolving conflicts.” 

To Lazada, it all comes back to having empathy and respect for the “human-ness” of each person. “If I could inspire a movement to bring out the best in as many people as possible, it would focus on fostering empathy and compassion,” she explains. “The world will greatly benefit from a collective shift in consciousness in which individuals actively seek to understand each other and connect on a deeper level.” 

Until that utopian dream comes to fruition, skilled conflict resolution and mediation experts will be there to help others navigate the murky waters of disagreement and work towards greater harmony. 

Author: Rohan Singh

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