What is A Mediated Conversation?
Often, when people are involved in conflict, communication breaks down and it becomes difficult to resolve disputes or to understand their underlying issues. Mediated or facilitated conversation are useful way for people to work through their issues and arrive at solutions that are mutually satisfying to everyone. An ombudsperson, or other neutral party, facilitates or helps to structure the conversation and thereby helping people to move from conflict to agreement. During the mediated conversation each party will identify their needs, interests, and possible solutions to the problem. The goal of these conversations is not to determine right and wrong or to assess blame. It is to gain an increased understanding of past problems, find workable solutions, and look at future possibilities.
What Will Happen During the Mediated Conversation?
During the mediated conversation, you will each be given an opportunity to discuss the issues from your perspective, without interruption. After both parties have spoken, you may ask questions of each other or clarify what has been said. After both parties have presented their issues and concerns the facilitator will work to create an environment where both of you can propose and consider possible strategies for resolving concerns.
How Long Does this Take?
It is hard to predict how long a mediated conversation will last. The amount of time needed depends a great deal upon the number and complexity of issues that are to be addressed. It is very important to allow ample time to engage in the conversation. You should plan to set aside at least ninety minutes for the conversation. Setting aside too little time can create an awkward and frustrating situation in which people leave without having resolved their issues satisfactorily.
What Will Be the Ombudsperson's Role?
The Ombudsperson is an objective and neutral party who can assist people in resolving conflicts. I don't take sides or advocate for any individual or group, but work with the parties to create strategies for resolving the issue. My office is independent of other offices on campus.. My goal is to provide a safe environment for addressing difficult issues.
I am a trained and certified mediator. During our meeting, my role will be to facilitate the conversation, to listen to all sides of the issue, and to help you consider options for resolving the conflict. I will keep track of time so that all parties will have ample opportunity to speak and be heard. Upon reaching mutually agreeable resolutions to the issues, I may (depending on the particular circumstances) help parties create a summary of the agreement both parties have reached.
How Can I Prepare for the Meeting?
Prior to coming to the meeting it might be helpful for you to think about your goals and the issues that you will be addressing. The following questions may guide your thinking:
- What would you like to see accomplished in this meeting?
- What are the issues you would like to see addressed? What are your needs and interests?
- What are some things you would be willing to do to resolve this issue? What would you like the other person to do?
- What do you think will happen if you and the other person or party reach an agreement on this issue? What will happen if you do not reach an agreement?
- Regardless of whether you think they will work, list all the options available to resolve this issue?
- What do you think could have been done that would have prevented this dispute from happening? What might prevent it from happening in the future?
By Sherry Turner
What if I Have Other Questions?
If you have questions, please contact the Ombudsperson.