WorkPeace: The Cold Hard Message

Everyone seems to have a story about an email/IM/Tweet/Instagram/Snap they received that set them back on their heels. Some very funny messages are sent with unintended consequences. Social media can be a great tools and have been the catalyst for many changes in the work place. They all have some short comings that make it necessary to use caution in sending a message.

Using them does allow us to get our thoughts to someone very quickly. This may be the problem. We tend not to re-read what we are about to send off and generally we do not stop to think how the message may be received.

What is missing is that we do not have a reliable way of conveying our true intentions (emojis may well convey a false or flippant emotion).

We need to be clear in what we say and how we say it.

This may take a bit more time when you write the message, however it will avoid multiple emails and a lot more time to correct a misinterpreted message.

This is a two-way street  – which means that as a recipient of unclear messages we should err on the side of caution and give the benefit of the doubt to the sender.  You can always ask for clarification of the message to ensure that you have a solid understanding of what is being asked or stated.  This will help you to make a fully informed decision as to whether you can comply with or make a sound response to what has been stated. We need to be just as vigilant in our response, knowing how words can seem cold or harsh in a response.

Here are some quick steps to help avoid conflict in messaging:

  1. Know your intention.
  2. Take a moment to consider the impact
  3. If you are unclear about the message, ask questions

If you are the sender, make sure that your message is clear and non-threatening.

If you are the receiver, make sure you understand what is being stated or asked.  When in doubt, ask for clarification.

This all seems simple, however at the pace of the workplace these days, one needs to be aware that mistakes can happen quickly and we all need to do what we can to prevent conflict whenever possible.

Dan Williams
Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams is a Mediate BC Civil Roster mediator. Based in Kamloops, Dan provides conflict management and mediation to unionized and non-union workplaces, the construction industry, for insurance claims, and more. Find out more at wmscanada.com.

 

This post is part of Mediate BC’s WorkPeace series: mediator tips for addressing workplace conflict effectively.

WorkPeace: Get Curious

If you work in Human Resources or manage employees then you will no doubt be involved with resolving conflict at your workplace. A common reaction for most people called on to help resolve conflict at work is avoidance.  After indulging in some panic or avoidance, I suggest getting curious.

Get curious by asking the right people the right questions.

As a mediator, here are my five steps that you can take to get curious and help to resolve issues that arise in the workplace:

  1. Find out or confirm who is involved.

This will typically range from two people to an entire division or team. For simplicity, let’s assume there are two employees not getting along.

  1. Talk to each person privately and confidentially.

Ask them both for their perspective on the incident or incidents that have led to the conflict or strain. How do they think they have contributed to the conflict?

  1. Ask each person what a good outcome would be for them.

This is important! Do they want a finding of fact (which may require an investigation) or are they open to moving forward if certain changes or acknowledgements are made? More often than not, I find changes and/or acknowledgements will be required from both participants.

  1. Discuss what they think the other person’s perspective is.

Really try to have them put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Perhaps this individual has health issues or stress at home. Note, you are not divulging any confidential information you may have but rather helping the other person to get curious and shift to a broader perspective of the situation. While someone’s circumstance does not condone poor behaviour, it can help another party to understand a situation differently.

  1. Task them with describing what options they see to move forward with the other person.

If they are stuck some options you could suggest are: setting up a meeting, lunch, a facilitated conversation or mediation. If the participants do decide to meet together remind them to come with a willingness to listen and understand things differently.

As you gather this information the next steps will be revealed. You don’t need to know all the answers when you are presented with a problem. While these steps will not resolve every issue they can help in a lot of circumstances. Giving people the opportunity to be heard and understood is powerful.

Amy Robertson
Amy Robertson

Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Civil and Family Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Workplace, Family and Divorce mediation practice and she has workplace mediation contracts with both the Federal and Provincial Government  – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.

This post is part of Mediate BC’s WorkPeace series: mediator tips for addressing workplace conflict effectively.

Photo by Marcos Luiz Photograph on Unsplash

5 Podcasts for Mediators this Winter Break

I am a bit of a podcast junkie. I currently subscribe to more podcasts than I can listen to in an average week. This means I always look forward to time when I can catch up!

Reading this I imagine you scratching your head thinking what is a podcast? and what has this got to do with mediation? Well, a podcast is a series of web-distributed audio (or video) files to portable media players (like an iPhone). Basically, they’re like radio show episodes you can download and play when you want.

They are an excellent way to choose content and access a great deal of material that will encourage reflective practice and offer helpful tools. It is easy to find a number of podcasts that use different formats (narrative, interview/dialogue, monologue) to suit your listening preference. Podcasts also have their own communities that engage in further discussion on social media as well.

It’s never been easier to access thought provoking content! Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Music (or through any fine podcast app).

To change things up from the winter break reading lists we see this time of year, I offer you a listening list.

Top 5 Podcasts for Mediators

Here are my top 5 podcast recommendations for mediators to listen to over the winter break (and subscribe to for future episodes):

5. The Turnaround!

The Turnaround!Interviewers, interviewed. The Turnaround is a new show about our greatest living interviewers, hosted by Jesse Thorn and produced by Maximum Fun and Columbia Journalism Review. Featuring conversations with prominent interviewers about their careers and their craft, the show is a perfect resource for a new generation of storytellers and journalists. You’ll hear Jesse speak with Larry King, Terry Gross, Werner Herzog, Audie Cornish, and so many more!

Want to learn more about interviewing and asking effective questions? This is the podcast for you. Jesse Thorn chats with some amazing interviewers about how they interview. It’s a great way to spend some time reflecting on how we as mediators engage with clients and go about asking all sorts of questions, and the different ways they prepare. A great opportunity to peek behind the curtain.
Episodes are about 60mins+.

Get a taste of The Turnaround:
Brooke Gladstone

 

4. Overthinking Conflict

Overthinking ConflictExploring the business, skills and styles of peacemaking. Our goals are to have interesting conversations, delve into the hard edges of conflict resolution and support developing practitioners like ourselves.

Each week, Overthinking Conflict explores a different aspect of peacemaking. Overall, there is a great deal of variety in the interviewees and breadth to their approaches and contexts to peacemaking. The hosts have different worldviews and approaches to their peacemaking practices which makes the conversations with guests all the more enjoyable and accessible.  Alright, full disclosure time. I co-host this podcast with Amanda Semenoff.
Episodes are about 25mins.

Get a taste of Overthinking Conflict:
Curiosity for Better Holidays with Kathy Taberner and Kirsten Taberner Siggins

 

3. Invisibilia

InvisibiliaInvisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Hanna Rosin, Alix Spiegel, and Lulu Miller, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.

I love how Invisibilia links scientific research and storytelling. It really makes for some engaged listening and a way to learn more about human behaviour. Many of the topics explored are particularly relevant to conflict resolution: fear, emotions, culture, perception and more. A bonus is that the stories translate well to retelling with clients to encourage self-reflection.
Episodes are about 60mins.

Get a taste of Invisibilia:
Frame of Reference

2. The Space Between

The Space Between with Dr. Tammy LenskiThe Space Between is about getting better results from your most difficult and important conversations. Award-winning mediator, executive coach, and conflict resolution teacher Dr. Tammy Lenski shares practical strategies for resolving conflict and tension in high-priority relationships at work and home.

Tammy offers up short and highly useful tools in her podcast that are easy to work into your own practice. Each episode breaks down a tool or concept to make it easy to integrate into your own toolbox. She also couches the episodes in personal and relatable stories. If you are looking for specific skills and tools, this is definitely the podcast for you.
Episodes are about 5-10mins.

Get a taste of The Space Between:
The question that ends hamster wheel debates

 

1. Hidden Brain

Hidden BrainA conversation about life’s unseen patterns. Hosted by social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, Hidden Brain links research from psychology and neurobiology with findings from economics, anthropology, and sociology, among other fields. The goal of Hidden Brain isn’t merely to entertain, but to give you insights to apply at work, at home and throughout your life.

The storytelling is well crafted and sensitive with social science research woven in to support and sometimes challenge our expected reactions to a story. Social science research is made not only accessible, but thoroughly understandable. The occasional stopwatch science segments is a fun, rapid-fire presentation of research on certain topics between host Shankar Vedantam and author Dan Pink. Each episode will inform and entertain.

The topics do range a fair bit, however this is probably the podcast that encourages me to reflect  on my own practice and what is happening for those in conflict the most.
Episodes are about 40-60mins.

Get a taste of Hidden Brain:
Tunnel Vision

Are you already an avid podcast fan? What shows are in your feed?
Share them in the comments below!

I hope you find a podcast of interest in this short list. Part of the fun is exploring and finding new podcasts that speak to you. Happy listening!

C.D. SaintC.D. Saint is a Sr. Coordinator with Mediate BC’s Roster Program where he promotes mediation and helps facilitate new conversations within the conflict resolution community around processes, roles and more. He co-hosts the Overthinking Conflict podcast, mediates and volunteers with the North Shore Restorative Justice Society.

Photo by Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash