Mediation is a process where all involved parties decide to meet with a neutral third party, who listens to all sides of the conflict and attempts to help the parties reach an agreed upon resolution. Prior to the mediation, the RA should have printed off the blank mediation agreement and either the completed roommate agreement OR blank roommate agreement if no agreement has been made with the room.
MEDIATION STEP BY STEP 1. Preparing for the Mediation a. Mediation should take place in a neutral location with adequate time designated (recommended that 2.5 hours be set aside for the process). Neutral location includes neutral seating. b. Make sure that the time scheduled is committed to by all parties and works with the mediators’ availability. c. Mediators will meet in advance to review the case file and discuss the situation, their approach, brainstorm possibilities, and determine roles. d. Mediators should mentally prepare for the mediation. Mediation can be stressful for the mediators too!
2. Introductions a. Mediators will introduce themselves and thank participants for coming. b. Go over roles i. Mediators’ role – to be impartial and help participants to work toward their own resolutions. ii. Participants’ role – to be invested in the process, actively participate and follow the ground rules. c. Explain purpose of mediation and how the process will work. d. Explain that the mediators will be taking notes along the way to make sure they keep track of all of the issues involved. e. Ask if there are any questions before proceeding.
3. Setting the Ground Rules: The mediator will help the parties set ground rules for the discussion. Ground rules will include: a. Each party will listen without interrupting the other person(s). b. Be respectful: i. No name-calling ii. No use of foul language iii. No insults/personal attacks iv. No threats c. Participants will try not to raise their voices. d. Participants need to stay present during the entire mediation. e. Stay on topic and try not to include extraneous information or “throw in the kitchen sink”. f. Each person will “own” his/her own statements and feelings. Ex: “I feel left out” sounds very different from “You never spend any time with me.” g. Generalizations will be avoided such as “never” and “always.” Be specific. h. Time limits will be established for each person to share his/her perspectives. (Generally 1-3 min. at a time). Recognize that there are at least two sides to every story. Hear the other person out. Try to see things from his/her perspective rather than jumping to conclusions. i. Information shared in the mediation should be kept private among the participants. j.Participants will be respectful and each strive toward reaching the most productive solution possible. k. The mediator should also ask each party if he/she has other possible ground rules or conditions for discussing the situation. l. Turn off cell phones.
4. Agreeing to the Mediation: Explain the importance that each person is agreeing to the process and to work toward mutually agreeable solutions. (Mediation will not work if any participant is unwilling to compromise, follow the ground rules, etc.).
5. Sharing Stories a. Allow each party uninterrupted time to state what he/she perceives as the main issues to be resolved. b. Start by choosing one participant to share his/her story and highlight his/her main concerns. c. Remind the person that he/she will have 1-3 minutes initially to do this. d. Listen and take notes during this process. e. Let the person know if his/her time is almost up. f. At the end, paraphrase what the person has said to clarify main points and to ensure that you understand the meaning of what has been shared. Use phrases such as, “What I hear you saying is…” and “It sounds like your main concerns are…”. g. If clarification is needed, use open-ended questions, such as “Could you share a little more about…?” and “What led to this conversation/action/etc.?” h. Along the way, remind the other participant(s) of the ground rules and not interrupting if necessary. i. Switch to another participant and repeat the steps above. j. Continue process until all concerns have been shared. k. Clarify that each person feels that all issues have been laid out.
6. Check-In a. Ask each person to clarify what he/she has heard others say and how she/he is feeling about it. b. Allow participants to respond to one another in a respectful way. c. Ask the person being paraphrased if the perspective is correct. d. Help them to identify any common issues.
7. Seeking Solutions a. Make a list that everyone can see with all of the main issues to be addressed. (Switch off listing the issues of the participants so that each person’s concerns are listed throughout). b. Make sure that all parties believe the list is correct and complete. c. Take one issue at a time. Ask each person what his/her ideal solution would be. Then work on the compromise. d. Ask each party to state possible solutions or what they could give. e. Allow the parties to brainstorm – remember not to judge any of the ideas. Different solutions work for different people. f. Assist as necessary by re-iterating what has been said, suggesting possible compromises, and trying to help generate other alternative solutions. Mediation does not always lead to a perfect solution, but the emphasis is on peaceful compromise. Most problems can be alleviated or resolved. g. Make a list of the ideas. h. Go over the list and ask each participant if he/she is willing to agree to each possible solution. Eliminate any that are unacceptable. i. For solutions that are agreeable to all participants, discuss the who, what, when, where, why, and how it will take place. (Some solutions-such as an apology-, may be able to take place immediately, whereas others may require a schedule or specific timeframe. Help the participants to be specific. j. When agreement is established, ask if all parties feel that this resolves the issue, in their opinion.
8. Putting It In Writing: Write out a brief summary of each conflict and solution, including specific details and times agreed upon. a. Review the summary with the participants and make sure everyone is in agreement. b. Have all participants sign and date the agreement. c. The mediators will sign as witnesses.
9. Conclusion a. Congratulate the participants on their hard work, cooperation, and willingness to compromise. b. Ask what they will do if they encounter future disputes/problems. c. Ask how each person plans to maintain a courteous relationship. d. Wish them luck and provide some positive encouragement for successfully working through their concerns.
10. Follow Up a. Two or three days after the mediation, mediator(s) should follow up with the participants to see how things are going and discuss any concerns that arise. b. Complete Mediation Agreement and submit to Assistant Director of Student Conduct with updated copy of the roommate agreement by next business day. The Assistant Director will upload these documents to the existing CARE report. c. Case by case: One or two weeks later, a second follow up may be needed (depending on the time line of the solutions and the first follow up conversation).
* Adapted from PaperClip Communications, “Roommate Connections” and other resources
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT We tend to think of conflict as having a negative connotation (stressful, frustration, divisiveness) but conflict can be positive as well -it is natural and can be healthy.
Pros of Conflict: · Stimulates discussion · Brings up concerns · Creates an understanding of peers · Demonstrates new perspectives · Gets it off your mind · Strengthens communication · Addresses the needs of others · Successful resolution can strengthen relationships
It would be dull if everyone already agreed about everything & shared the same opinions. Conflict is a way to explore new ideas and challenge one's own perspectives. Disagreements usually arise between differing perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, values or needs. Conflict usually turns bad when people do not treat one another with respect and/or do not use good techniques for addressing their concerns. A differen of opinion can come across as a personal attack when not handled well.
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION 1. Separate people from the problem (i.e. the problem is that you do not like the room dirty; not that your roommate is dirty). Use feelings and "I" statements vs. "You" statements which sound accusatory 2. Look for the source of the conflict (perception, attitude, belief, value or need) 3. Listen to one another and ask questions for clarification 4. Look for a win-win solution 5. Try to be flexible and look for creative solutions 6. Try to focus on the larger issues (i.e. are you talking about a specific past behavior or an example of a reoccuring problem? Examples can help in explaining a problem, but should not become the focus of the discussion. 7. Manage your emotions-try to remain calm and not let your feelings take over how you deal with the conflict; hurt feelings and frustrations are likely to occur 8. Take a time-out to "cool off" if you need it- but make sure you come back to finish the discussion 9. Put agreements in writing and post in a space visible to all participants