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Conflict Coaching

Wednesday, May 27, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lori Dieckman
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Thank you to Dan Joyce and Steven Molnar of Cleveland Mediation Center who collaborated to provide two success stories of how conflict coaching works and a checklist to help others implement this process. 




Conflict Coaching

Dan Joyce, Cleveland Mediation Center Staff

Conflict coaching has become an integral part of mediation services. As the field develops the idea of assisting people to solve their own conflicts is becoming more prevalent. Simply put, rather than focus only on people mediating; a first step of helping them deal with conflicts without a third party mediator has taken hold.


In the past few months we at Cleveland Mediation Center (CMC)  have provided this service to a handful of people and it is woven into the service delivery system of the homeless prevention program. We have offered workplace intervention services since our inception but we have found lately that people are more willing to discuss the conflict and take action to resolve it themselves.


In one such case, an employer called CMC after a former staff member left to start her own business, which would be competing with the work the employer did.  The employer was concerned that the former staff person was now going to be competing for contracts and using the materials and process design that belonged to the employer.


In this case, CMC staff began by listening and helping the person understand and clarify the conflict. Listening skills of paraphrasing, encouraging and crediting the person for seeking a collaborative process were used. Once there is a sense that the conflict is understood by the listener (and inherently the speaker) action steps are evaluated.


CMC staff also asked questions such as what will happen if you do nothing? Do you want to have an ongoing relationship with the other person? What powers do you have and how do you perceive the power of the other person?  What will the other person need from you to resolve this conflict? What will you need from the other person? If you had a conversation with the other person how would that go? If the conversation did not resolve the conflict what are your options. Do you want to go to court? How would each of you be viewed by others?


In this case the employer scheduled a meeting with the former employee. The employer called afterwards and said the meeting was very productive and the many of the issues were resolved thanks to the coaching she received from CMC.


In another case a public official called and asked about the possibility of mediation between the directors of two agencies that were being funded through his office.  After listening to his assessment of the conflict, CMC staff helped the public official realize that what he really wanted to know was how he could influence the conflicting parties to move from being competitors to collaborators.   Through talking with CMC staff, it became apparent to the public official that he really had the power since he was funding both agencies. What he was struggling with was the dichotomy of “forcing” the parties to be collaborative. He called both parties and broached the subject with them and is now in ongoing conversations in order to resolve the issue.




Conflict Coaching for Community Mediation Programs

Steven Molnar, Cleveland Mediation Center Staff 


Conflict coaching enables the participant to talk about the conflict with a neutral third party (the conflict coach), consider options for managing the conflict, and design an approach to discuss the conflict with the other person on their own. As in mediation, in conflict coaching, the participant is responsible for the outcome. 


Conflict Coaching:


  •  Actively listen to the participant as they explain the situation
  • Relay resources when available
  •  Ask participant demographic information to open up a case file for their issue.
  • Talk through the particular conflict situation with participant and help them process options that meet their goals. (Goals can be added or change at any point) 
  •   Explore different perspectives or scenarios and reality test them with a set criteria    (end-goals)
  •  Discuss next steps and the length of time needed to accomplish them
  •  Discuss any other appropriate information that needs to be gathered or shared


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