Do holiday family gatherings cause you stress and anxiety? You are not alone.
What happens when we suddenly have all this compressed family time? For many families, it’s conflict. The gentle teasing goes a little too far. Old hurts, compounded by time and other issues that were never really resolved, are brought screaming to the surface. It does not have to be this way.
Last December a parent gave their family members the gift of mediation. An adult child had so much hurt built up with another family member they could no longer communicate or be in a room together. The gift was an opportunity for them to work through their issues privately with a neutral person to see if they could find resolutions that would work for them.
I was asked if I would mediate between the family members in an effort to repair the relationship for a Christmas celebration where everyone would once again feel comfortable attending – or even consider attending! Everyone agreed to the terms of our work and progress was made. New boundaries were established and a plan with a timeline was agreed to in an effort to get things back on track.
As a mediator, here are my five tips to help families share information, understand different perspectives and hopefully get back on track:
1. Determine 3 things you each want the other person to hear.
Take turns without interrupting and really listen to each other. Anticipate hearing something you do not agree with and be prepared to focus on what they are saying anyway without reacting.
2. Keep an open mind and be curious.
Try to understand what is important to the other person and how they feel. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. Try to avoid questions that include “why” as they can be perceived as judgmental or challenging. A simple option is to say “tell me more about this.”
3. Talk about the impact.
By focusing on the impact of the conflict or circumstance on you or someone you love, you will be less likely to trigger defensiveness in the other person.
4. Acknowledge that there is more than one solution.
Be flexible and think of at least two ideas or suggestions to move things forward.
5. Focus on the positive.
If you cannot agree on what has happened in the past, shift your focus to what you can both agree on to go forward.
If both people follow what they agree to (which is more likely when they create the terms together), it can do a lot to repair a relationship and rebuild trust over time.
All relationships have their challenges and it is common to find conflict in an important long-term relationship. How you choose to handle the conflict going forward is what really counts.
If you are unable to manage the conflict on your own, mediators can be an important part of moving things forward in a positive and constructive way. The dialogue may be intense, so some people like the idea of having someone impartial to both prepare and guide them through these tough conversations. Mediators help families resolve some or all of their issues in over 90% of cases.
November 19 to 26th was proclaimed Conflict Resolution Week in BC. Following that lead, let’s seize the opportunity to improve our relationships and cherish the holiday season with our families. After all, do we really need more stuff?
Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Family and Civil Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Family and Workplace mediation practice and she is a Facilitator of the Parenting After Separation Finances Course – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.
 Mediate BC 2015 Business of Mediation Survey
We have reached two important milestones in the unbundled legal services adventure (in partnership with Access to Justice BC):
- Publication of a Toolkit for Lawyers and Paralegals (version 1.0); and
- An invitation to receive more information about the BC Family Unbundling Roster
The Toolkit version 1.0
During the surveys and interviews with family lawyers and paralegals, we heard time and time again that lawyers are interested in providing unbundled legal services to families but need a more structured approach to integrating unbundled services into their practice. They wanted simple, concrete tools, best practice guidelines, how to guides and, in particular, templates.
We are extremely pleased to advise that, as part of a partnership with Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC), version 1.0 of the Toolkit for Lawyers and Paralegals has now been posted! We are extremely grateful to CLBC for their expert and timely assistance.
Here is the index of materials in the Toolkit:
- An introduction about how to use the Toolkit
- Law Society of BC Code of Conduct Rules
- Best Practices for Unbundling
- Unbundling FAQs for Lawyers
- List of Resources
- How to use the retainer letter templates
- Retainer letter: One-time consultation
- Retainer letter: Ongoing consultation
- Schedule A – full list
- Schedule A – example of drafting documents
- Schedule A – example of coaching for mediation
- Flowchart for Lawyers
- Flowchart for Clients
- Client Intake for Unbundling
This is version 1.0 because we are still working on enhancing the existing materials and adding new ones. To do this we need your help! Please take a look, try them out and provide us with your feedback.
The BC Family Unbundling Roster
BC family lawyers, family mediators and, in particular, the public, told us that they did not know how to find lawyers willing to provide unbundled legal services. Many suggested a free public-facing list or roster that was hosted in a central place.
We are excited to announce that we are working with the CLBC to create such a roster which will reside on the Clicklaw site – easily accessible to the public and the legal community. The roster itself is under construction but, in the meantime, we invite you to click here to indicate your interest in this important tool. We will let you know as soon as the application form is ready.
As an added bonus, you have the option of agreeing to have your name and contact information shared with, and included in, a Canadian national database of lawyers providing unbundled legal services of all types. This national database is published by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project led by Dr. Julie Macfarlane. Inclusion in this database will give you and your firm national exposure to families seeking unbundled legal services for BC-related matters.
Unbundling and the national database were recently showcased in a NSRLP video featuring BC’s Chief Justice Bauman. In addition, we recommend that you read Chief Justice Bauman’s newest blog post on unbundling.
Please let us know if you have questions or need more information about this exciting initiative.
Kari D. Boyle
Project Manager, BC Family Unbundled Legal Services Project
Image Credit: Florian Richter | Flickr cc
Ugh. Another day at the office.
How many of your workers feel like this before coming to work? Many leaders and their employees go to work daily worrying about unresolved conflict. One study found that 85% of employees have to deal with conflict to some degree and 36% also spend a significant amount of time managing disputes.
The costs of unresolved conflict in the workplace are innumerable. From lower employee engagement and productivity and higher absenteeism, to loss of customers, as outward-facing employees experiencing stress and conflict often are not capable of representing your business in its best light.
Often it’s leaders who bear the brunt and carry the burden of conflict.
According to a recent Globe and Mail article, “Leaders who lack conflict management skills and avoid conflict often end up being less effective at achieving their defined business objectives, have more trouble managing people and being fulfilled by their job.”
Conflict Coaching to the rescue!
What is “Conflict Coaching”?
Conflict coaching emerged from the executive coaching and conflict resolution fields, as practitioners explored ways to support individual clients who were troubled by a specific conflict or seeking enhanced “conflict competency” – the ability to communicate and manage conflict. Pioneers like Cinnie Noble, Tricia Jones and Ross Binkert led the way, merging their expertise in conflict resolution – including third-party led methods like mediation – with individual-focused executive coaching that supports individuals in expanding their workplace competencies.
Conflict coaching is typically a one-on-one process, focused on individual goals and conflict management needs. Client goals might include enhancing conflict competency, integrating learning from conflict resolution training, or preparing for a difficult conflict conversation, or a more formal conflict resolution process such as mediation.
Effective leaders have high conflict competency, respond to pressures and change more constructively, build more productive teams and help create a positive work environment.
Top 5 Reasons to Work with a Conflict Coach
1. Hone your conflict competency and be a more effective leader.
Develop positive and productive conflict management skills. Increase your understanding of conflict dynamics and your awareness of your own conflict style. Learn how to mitigate the impact of conflict and manage conflict in more constructive and collaborative ways. Your coach will guide you through competency development.
2. You have unresolved conflict.
Your coach will help you analyze the conflict situation and develop a strategy for resolving or managing the conflict and build your problem-solving skills. Clients report increased confidence when supported by a conflict coach.
3. You are going to mediation.
Conflict coaching can help you prepare for mediation, during the mediation from behind-the-scenes, and after the mediation. Your coach will help you identify your goals for the mediation, and how to achieve them.
4. You want to integrate conflict resolution training.
Research shows that ROI on training is increased by up to 500% when training is coupled with or followed by one-on-one or group coaching.
5. Conflict Coaching benefits everyone.
Learning how to manage conflict effectively – rather than reacting to conflict in negative or potentially destructive ways – benefits the coaching client, and everyone the client deals with! Organizations benefit when their employees and leaders enhance their conflict competency.
Conflict coaching is dynamic and flexible, and is available to individuals one-on-one, and to groups and teams.
Carrie Gallant is an lawyer, Executive Coach and Enhanced Conversational Intelligence Coach®. She is also a Mediate BC Civil Roster mediator, teacher and trainer. Carrie’s expertise in negotiation, conflict management and career counselling provides a rich foundation to her passion for helping others uncover what really matters and solve problems creatively. For more information, please contact email@example.com.