Mediate Yourself in Business and at Work


The source of all human conflict is needs met and unmet.

Basic Mediator Training, Mediation Matters (www.mediationmatters.org)

Out of the blue a number of years ago, one of the members of my project team started spontaneously raging at me in a meeting. They called me, among other grievances, a liar. It took me aback. I was shocked, hurt and puzzled. To my knowledge and recollection, I had not lied to Team Member. I attempted to defend myself and my reputation, and asked them what I had lied to them about, as the anger was clearly unrelated to the topic of the meeting. These attempts only incensed Team Member further, and the yelling escalated. Their yelling triggered my basic mediation training, which had reinforced over and over again to listen for the needs underneath the yelling.  The remembrance was a balm for my own inner turmoil at being misunderstood in the moment, and it enabled me to calmly ask Team Member: “What do you need?”

The question almost miraculously calmed them as well – they stopped yelling, blinked, swallowed and took a breath. “I need you to not give my job to another team member, (Name Withheld).” I sat back in my seat, surprised again. I absolutely did not have any plans to give Team Member’s job to anyone, and frankly, could not. “Name Withheld is not eligible to take your job; and I have no plans to give anyone else your job,” I responded with clearly candid reassurance. As quickly as they had become angry, Team Member was once again calm, and reassured. “Thank you for listening to me,” they said. “You’re welcome, ” I replied, amazed at the transition of need unmet; need identified; and need met. And I had mediated my own workplace conflict, without a third-party mediator. It was not actually my preference based on my training, but it was gratifying to know that I could mediate myself in a conflict, particularly in a conflict where I was being personally (and unfairly) attacked.

What do you need to be successful, even in the face of conflict, in business and at work?

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