Sunday, August 24, 2014

Modernizing your practice: mediating on a cloud, get found online and get more clients

Modernizing your practice: mediating on a cloud, get found online and get more clients

Mediate2go: Modernizing your practice: mediating on a cloud, get found online and get more clients
“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future” – McLuhan, The medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects
Things are constantly changing in the world; this includes the world of conflict and conflict resolution. Young mediators have started to enter the field, some studying dispute resolution at undergraduate and graduate levels, some coming from backgrounds in social work, psychology, applied human sciences, communication and nursing (see How to Become a Mediator in 11 Steps). Some have interdisciplinary backgrounds, bridging mediation training with other fields, such as law. Many new mediators might not opt for a law degree, and may simply get some training in relevant areas of law through continuing education. 

The clients in mediation are also changing. GenX and GenY mediation clients have been raised with technology, and now use this in how they create and solve problems, how they interact with one another, how they act as consumers in the world and what they expect from professionals (such as mediators). (please see the UN Report). This is also the case for GenZ clients, who might be members of peer mediation processes or sit with parents within family mediation processes.
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Mediators from this generation are also different. GenX and GenY mediators are re-defining what is considered best practice in dispute resolution. They use technology to build and maintain their practice, to connect and retain clients, and ensure credibility through offering customer relationship excellence with cloud-basedcase management. They adapt their processes to meet client needs and expectations. There is no longer a monopoly on mediation practice, and now, lawyers do not have the only right to act as third party neutrals.

Mediators from GenX and GenY have a new way of working. No longer do they walk into the mediation room with a bulky briefcase of documents and promote themselves through the newspaper - they walk into the mediation room with their tablet or iPad, and promote themselves successfully through social media. See our blog on how to use our cloud based case manager.

Some mediators and their clients no longer use email (let alone the phone), some only communicate on FaceTime, Skype, Twitter and Facebook, etc. These mediators have already adapted to the marketplace and know that their current and future client base is already in the cloud. These cloud mediators know that consumers will not just pay high prices for mediation because someone has a law degree. They would rather opt for an affordable mediator with a great reputation and credibility - which isn’t based on the letters at the end of your name.

Mediate2go: Modernizing your practice: mediating on a cloud, get found online and get more clients

Key Mediation (practitioner and client) trends per Generation:
(See UN Report for key generational differences and similarities)

GenZ: 2000 to present

GenZ, which according to some is the “conflict generation” due to having been raised during various world conflicts, is also known as the generation of digital natives. They have been raised with technology, and know not a world without it (see Wiki). 

1.    Diversity is normal: This generation was raised in an extremely diverse environment. These generations expect others to respect diversity in all areas of service, even if they do not themselves do not belong to a particular group. This respect and comfort with diversity is likely to spread to technology.

GenY: Born between 1981-2000

Often portrayed as egocentric, GenY’ers were validated and empowered when they were raised, and expect safety and security. This generation is characterized as being natural at “networking, multiprocessing and [being] global-minded” (UN Report).
1.    Instant Service: GenY members want things right now, so online dispute resolution offers a quick solution. If you’re not there as a service provider when they want it, they will move on. If you are asked as a mediator to provide a document, they want it right away. They want their copy of the settlement agreement immediately, etc. Luckily, this is possible with
2.    Online Platforms: They are reliant on the internet, using everything from “Webinars, Instant Messaging, Blogs, Podcasts, Avatars, Youtube”, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. These are the new normal in terms of reaching out and maintaining client relationships. Mediators must use these mediums. Some conflicts are created through these services, so an understanding of them through experience is a new form of credibility that will be expected.
3.    Online Learning: Learning can come in any format, including blogs, etc.
4.    Client Focused: Client and mediator focus orientation is Email, Instant messaging and Text, so clients expect this mode of communication.
5.    Expect comfort and Respect for Personal Life: Mediation from home is a great option for clients to feel comfortable. They expect personal life to be respected, so prefer to attend less formal meetings
6.    Relationship Focus: Mediation clients are motivated by relationships, sometimes of which are all social media based, which means that mediators should be skilled at making and maintaining online relationships. See our blog on the definition of trust and building trust.
7.    Empowerment: GenY clients especially are looking for empowerment, so self-mediation and learning about conflict resolution is what they want. They want to be empowered to resolve their own conflicts.
8.    Always Online: Mediators and clients use web and networks 24/7, so they expect quick replies and access to information at any time.
9.    Collaborative: This generation having blogged and played multi-player video games is all about collaboration. They expect this in receiving services, and collaborating with other mediators.

GenX – Born between 1965-1980
GenX’ers developed behaviours “of independence, resilience and adaptability” (UN Report)  This generation is more open to technology and some have embraced its benefits. Here are some key characteristics:
1.    Technology Motivates: Primarily on email and mobile 24/7 but new technology can be extremely motivating for them, so mediators should, at a minimum, be comfortable with email, and better, use secure messaging to protect a client’s privacy. 
2.    Web-based Training: Comfortable with web-based training, so they can already be reached in this way
3.    Design Savvy: Already sensitive to design and graphics, so a nice web interface is key. They are more likely to understand that clients also expect a nice interface, so they know that they must have a great web presence, similar to the design of Mediate2go.

BabyBoomer – Born between 1946-1964

Boomers “live to work”, and have a strict worth ethic, expecting others to have the same (UN Report).  This generation was also raised when the nuclear family was the norm, so new types of families and ways of living were not so common. As a result, they may be somewhat uncomfortable with client requests coming in at all hours of the day, and new arrangements of living together. Overall, here are some trends for this generation.
1.    Phone focused: Stuck on telephone for some, but many are embracing technology
2.    Not Raised on Tech: Assume that others see technology the way that they do, that it’s hard to navigate - they underestimate how technology is natural to some other generations, possibly being resistant to technology.
3.    Exploring the Online: Already using email and google, but still behind on Instant Messaging (IM)
4.    Web-based Training: Want multi-media learning and well-organized knowledge dissemination

Traditionalist – Born between 1925-1945
Known also as the Veteran Generation, Traditionalists are “hardworking, financially conservative, and cautious” (UN Report). As a result, they often look at client relations whereby:
1.    Face-to-face is best: stuck with face to face contact only, and are less likely to use E-mail/IM/Text due to their discomfort with change. Although many are now open to new technology.

Use the Mediate2go online ADR directory! It's the most affordable, yet most powerful tool for mediators and anyone with conflict!  Get a free trial, create a profile and get more clients! 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Constructive Confrontation

Mediate2go: Constructive Confrontation

Constructive Confrontation

Is there such thing as a confrontation that is constructive?

Confrontation is where hidden conflict comes to the surface. It’s where needs can transform into satisfaction. Where values can find recognition and interests satisfaction. That is if the conflict is addressed constructively. This doesn’t presuppose that all conflicts are fully resolvable, or that things won't get worse before they get better. However, we think it's worth a shot to try to make things better.

If confrontation is not handled properly, it might maintain the status quo, or make things worse. This is known as destructive conflict escalation, which can make it even more challenging to resolve conflict: when “…people get caught in an increasing cycle of [conflict] escalation, distrust, and misunderstanding [become] so severe that a one-stop, settlement-oriented approach to dispute resolution provides only a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.[ii]” Through confronting someone in a respectful manner, you are more likely to avoid this negative conflict escalation cycle. recommends trying to have a constructive conversation to make things better. Don't forget to read about the Definition of Trust, Building Trust, and How to Peacefully Resolve Conflict.

What is Constructive Confrontation?

Constructive confrontation is a method of thinking about confrontation based on the way many mediators look at conflict. This approach aims not to help individuals resolve conflict, but rather help them focus on the processes to help them better confront or speak to someone.[i] When we say confront, we really mean discuss. 

Confrontation doesn’t mean yelling at someone or telling them what to do. It means bringing forth an issue to someone in a respectful way, while respecting your needs. This theory assumes that some conflicts may be so complex that total resolution may not be possible. Furthermore, the model assumes that confrontations amongst individuals and groups over challenging issues will inevitably take place, but the destructive way in which they face them will not.[iii] 

Key Principles

What are the key principles in making confrontation constructive? 

Focus on the Process

According to this model, it may be a noble goal to resolve a conflict, but that shouldn’t be the focus, especially when conflicts are destructive. Rather, people must focus on “building constructive relationships and the making of fair and wise decisions over both the short and long term.[iv]” 

Focus on building a relationship

Confrontation doesn’t mean pushing only for what you want, but rather focusing on your relationship with the other person and looking for fair and equitable solutions that would benefit both of you equally. The notion of equality is very important to constructive confrontation. Parties must focus beyond selfish desires to those of the greater good, or ‘community values’.[v] In the case of conflict in an organization, the focus can still be on the greater good of the team and organization.

This brings us back to the ultimate goal of Constructive Confrontation, which is to transform relationships, “[allow]ing individuals, organizations, and society as a whole to realize the benefits of conflict[…] help[ing] people, organizations, and societies to learn, grow and change.[vi]” With these key principles in mind, we now have a framework to approach confrontation in a constructive way.

Having a 'Critical Conversation' to deal with Core Conflict Problems

Here are some practical suggestions that will help you prepare for a confrontation with someone you supervise. 

A. ‘Preparation:’ 

  • Reflect on your goal for the conversation and ensure that you focus on a supportive tone rather than criticizing one. 
  • What assumptions do you make about the person? Do they know about the situation that bothers you? They might not be aware of it.
  • What exactly is hitting your nerves? Does the situation reflect a past experience and are you being too emotional? 
  • Think of some good ways to start the conversation, so it is launched from this positive approach. Some recommendations from include: “I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.” I’d like to talk about ____________ with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.” "I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?"
  • "I think we have different perceptions about _____________________. I’d like to hear your thinking on this."
  • "I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well."
  • Timing is everything, as well as the location. Choose a neutral and private location for your discussion together and be sure that both of you have enough time to have a deep discussion. Also, make sure that both of you are calm (to calm down, it takes between 20 and 60 minutes).

B. Confrontation and ‘Inquiry:’

  • Confrontation doesn’t mean being aggressive. In fact, the best way of doing so is through being a good listener. 
  • Be curious and keep asking questions. Do not interrupt. It is their time to speak. The key that you don’t become defensive.

C. ‘Acknowledgement:’

  • Show that you’ve listened and ‘heard’ them. A good way of achieving this is by playing ‘devil’s advocate’ against yourself. 

D. ‘Advocacy’ of your perspective:

  • Once they stop speaking and you’ve allowed them to fully express themselves, clarify your position, but do not belittle or lessen the importance of their perspective. This means stating things such as, “From my perspective, I saw the situation like this…”. Do not say “but I…”

E. ‘Problem Solving:’

  • See them as someone you are working with and not against and start thinking of ways of working out the situation. If you begin to argue again, them go back to Confrontation and Inquiry once again. Even ask them how we can find a better way of working together.


Dan Lawlor is a Mediate2go Blogger focused on estates and commercial dispute resolution. Dan is a graduate of McGill University's Faculty of Law with interests in conflict resolution, business law and writing. He played an important role as a director with Mediation at McGill, building connections with the community to improve outreach. Currently he is a student-at-law with Campbell Mihailovich Uggenti LLP in Hamilton, Ontario. Dan loves team sports, reading, and traveling.

[i] Burgess, H. and Burgess, G. (1996), Constructive confrontation: A transformative approach to intractable conflicts. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 13: 305–322. doi: 10.1002/crq.3900130407.
[ii] Ibid. 306
[iii] Ibid. 307
[iv] Ibid. 318
[v] Ibid. 320
[vi] Ibid. 321

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Conflict is good for business. Conflict resolution and innovation go hand-in-hand.

Conflict is a good for business. Conflict can be transformed to help you meet business objectives. Conflict is good for business - Innovation and Change
Studies reveal that conflict has major impacts on organizations, employees and managers. (CPP Global Human Capital Report) Here are some examples, which also explain why individuals and organizations generally view conflict as a bad thing, something that should be avoided.

Costs to Organizations:
  • Employees spend an average of 2-3 hours per week dealing with conflict
  • Conflict leads to High Turnover and Lower Recruitment,
  • Project Failure,
  • Cross-Departmental Problems and
  • Tarnished Public Image
Costs to Individuals:
  • Stress,
  • De-motivation,
  • Anger and Frustration,
  • Nervousness,
  • Sleeplessness,
  • Sickness,
  • Damaged Reputation,
  • Leading to Absence,
  • Termination and
  • Resignation.

Sadly, most organizations avoid conflict in the hope that it will go away on its own, or employees will deal with it themselves. This is likely to worsen the situation and lead to conflict escalation. Furthermore, it denies the possibility that conflict can be used to improve organizational output. 

Conflict, if managed effectively, can actually improve a business or organization. Here are some results: (See CPP Global Human Capital Report) Conflict is good for business - Innovation and Change
  1. Better understanding of others (41%)
  2. Improved working relationships (33%)
  3. Better solutions to problems and challenges (29%)
  4. Higher performance in the team (21%)
  5. Increased Motivation (18%)
  6. Major Innovation (9%)

As we can see, managing conflict can actually improve your working context and company overall. It might even give you an edge over the competition. Considering that teams can better understand one another, they will be more likely to communicate effectively during meetings, and therefore more capable to exchange information. Relationships are improved, so individuals will more freely share their innovative ideas and express themselves, all of which is data that is vital to effectively meeting organizational goals. 

Through improved communication, problems and challenges can be more easily managed, some of which might lead to expensive results if not handled otherwise. Teams perform more effectively, and teams are motivated, so leadership can delegate more work to the team and focus on other more strategic tasks. Major innovation also results through effective conflict management, which makes sense given that employees and managers feel a sense of loyalty to an organization that helps them effectively manage their conflict.

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