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Ownership of the Resolution Process

Ownership of the Resolution Process

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that much of the effectiveness of a conflict resolution process depends on the parties' feeling ownership and joint control of the process, and will be able to use techniques to build this feeling.

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Ownership of the Resolution Process

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For the conflict resolution process to succeed both parties need to feel a sense of ownership. They need to feel like it's their process, and they have control over the outcome. So I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to talk with you more about that, how we make that possible in the conflict resolution process.

So it's an interesting question here to ponder. We've got two parties in conflict. And they're going to work together to come to a solution. How can they work together if they're in conflict? Well, actually working in this process is the first step to show them that they can work together, because they are going to own this process. It's their process. They are going to be creating it, working through it and be responsible for the outcome.

And you as the intervener are going to be guiding them through this process. So how does this work? How do you create this sense of ownership? Well, I've written three things down here, outlining the process, getting agreement, and checking in, three very important things. When the parties first come to the conflict resolution process, you are going to outline the process to them. You want them to feel comfortable with this process, how it works. And you want to get their input.

So you'll start by laying out some basic ground rules, letting them know it's voluntary, it's confidential, letting them know that you as the mediator are here to guide the process, but it is their process. Then you'll let each party know that they're each going to get a turn to speak and to explain how they see this conflict, their perspective. And during their time of speaking, this uninterrupted time of speaking, you will be listening and the other party will be listening. And then the other party will have a chance to do the same, to speak and to be listened to.

And then you'll explain that you as the intervener may ask some clarifying questions just to make sure you have the facts right, and that you're understanding what each party has presented. And then you'll move into more discussion here. If they want to talk to each other back and forth for awhile, whatever they need in terms to feel like they have said what they need to say, that they have been heard, that there will be this period of time where they are speaking and listening to one another.

Then when each side has felt like they have said what they have to say, they've been heard, then you'll move into a time of generating and evaluating options which will lead to the final formalized written agreement. So you'll explain these things. You'll outline this process to the parties. And then you will get their agreement. Does this sound agreeable to them? And ask, is there any input you would like to have, is there anything here, any input, anything that you would like as part of this process?

And, of course, whatever they would like has to fit within the conflict resolution guidelines. For example, if one party says, you know, if we get really stuck, can you just decide for us, or can you give us some good ideas? Well, if this is a facilitative mediation, you as the mediator or as the intervener will not be doing that. So you will clarify your role to them and exactly where your role fits here, and how you are going to be working with them. So no, you're not going to make the decision here. You're not an arbiter. You're a mediator in this case.

But another party might say, you know, during the time in the beginning when we are both speaking, is it OK if we ask each other a question, or does it have to be totally uninterrupted? No, it's fine, if party A, party B, do you agree you'd like to do that? If they want to not have it be totally uninterrupted time, but they would like to listen and ask questions during that time, it's their process. So you take your cues from them. So you outline the process, you get agreement.

And then very important you check in. Now, you will be checking in with them. This process check is something that you will do. During the mediation you can check in with the parties to see how they feel that it is going. But there's also a more formal process check in. And you can tell that there is this option, that from time to time you may decide that you want to meet separately with each party to check in, to ask them just to sense how comfortable they are, how well served they feel, do they have any input, ask for their feelings.

There may be something they want to share with you that they don't want to share with the other party. And, of course, this check in is completely confidential. And you can let them know that if they feel they'd like to check in with you at any particular time they can do that. They can check in with you alone and let you know, give you some input, tell you more about what they're feeling, give you some suggestions. So there is that more formalized process check, as well as an informal checking in, clarifying questions, making sure that during the mediation itself when the parties are participating, speaking and listening to one another, that you are making sure that you understand their needs.

So once again, the success here, the overall excess success really does come from parties feeling ownership. And this means that they feel that they have the control over the participation, how they participate here and the final outcome, that this is their process, it's their solution, and that they're going to work together with you as the guide to create that. So thank you for joining me, and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

In conflict resolution processes: a sense that parties have substantial control over their participation and design or implementation of a process and any potential solutions.

Process Check

A technique used by mediators to be certain that parties are comfortable with and feel well-served by the mediation process; asking parties for feelings about, input on, and suggestions to address their comfort level with a mediation process.