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Fixing the Fighting - A Guide to Using Mediation in Settling Disputes and Resolving Conflict in the Workplace
Oak Tree Press, June 2003, Pages: 145
The Irish workplace of today is undergoing profound change. While these changes are often producing more efficient organisations, this efficiency is frequently achieved at the expense of the human element of work life. There is a resultant increase in the level of conflict, which ultimately affects the overall and long-term effectiveness of these same organisations.
This increasing level of conflict is not confined to commercial organisations, but is found in many organisations whose remit is of a social or service nature, rather than a purely monetary one – hospitals, community groups, charities, arts and heritage, education.
While many books have been written about change in the workplace, this is the first one to focus exclusively on one aspect of this change – the resolution of conflict and disputes in the Irish workplace through the use of mediation.
The reader will notice that both conflict and disputes are mentioned. Disputes tend to be easer to spot as they are known about and usually involve entrenched positions, which may well be moved on, depending on how well negotiations take place. Conflict, on the other hand, can often be below the surface, more damaging and very difficult to deal with. Remember – the Titanic was gored below the water line.
How well prepared are people to deal with conflict in the workplace? The answer is that generally people at work are very poorly prepared. We want the end result – peace and quiet – but are not prepared to put in much effort and time to achieve it. The quick fix is looked for and, often, training is simply non-existent or inadequate. The search for understanding is ignored in favour of an aggressive end to hostilities.
There is, however, something happening, which is signalling an improvement in how we deal with conflict and disputes at work. This is the development of mediation.
The area of workplace mediation has been developing in other countries such as America, Canada, Australia and Great Britain and is beginning to open up in Ireland also. The message is that disputes and conflict can be resolved by different means from those which have been used in the past. Mediation empowers those involved in a dispute to solve their own issues and to learn a lot in the process. It is a truly ‘adult’ way of dealing with problems. This book aims to provide an introduction and overview of the use of mediation in dispute and conflict resolution in workplaces, organisations and business.
The book can be read straight through or can be browsed by interest. Chapter 1 gives some background to the pressures in organisations and workplaces in Ireland today and points to an increasing demand for better ways to deal with the inevitable conflict. For those who want a brief overview of what mediation is about, Chapters 2-5 outline what mediation is, the benefits of using it and the typical process used, and provide a detailed case study.
To gain further understanding of why conflict exists and to analyse one of the most powerful ways of diffusing conflict, the reader is directed to Chapters 6 and 7. Chapter 8 looks at what is needed in a competent mediator – this may be useful for those considering using an independent mediator but who do not know what to look for. Chapter 9 outlines some factors to consider when looking at suitability for mediation and gives examples of typical scenarios in which mediation would be potentially very suitable and effective.
The purpose of this book is to provide a user-friendly guide to the whole area of mediation and its uses in workplace and business generally.
Workplace mediation is an eclectic mix of art, science, personalities and circumstances. It is hoped that you, the reader, will enjoy this book and will become interested in looking for ways in which mediation can benefit your organisation in the future.
About the Authors
Brendan Schütte is a practising mediator and consultant with over twenty years' successful experience of working with people and organisations in a variety of settings including business, education, healthcare and non-government organisations.
In addition to holding a B.Comm and Diploma in Industrial Relations, he was awarded First Place in the very first Diploma in Mediation Studies in UCD in 2000. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, has lectured in the National College of Ireland and serves on the Executive Committee of the Mediators Institute Ireland.
1 How Lies the Land?
2 What is Mediation?
3 The Benefits of Mediation
4 The Mediation Process
5 Case Studies
6 Why Does Conflict Exist in Organisations?
7 The Greatest Conflict Buster Ever!
8 The Go-betweens
9 Suitability for Mediation