Addressing a conflict

Guidance on how to approach a disagreement.

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Formal Processes

A decision has to be made to choose the informal “Mediation” route to resolution instead of the formal “Grievance” or “Disciplinary” processes. Mediation may not result in a resolution and in some cases, a formal process may then be invoked. Equally, a mediation may be suggested at the end of a formal process to try to repair the relationship.  

In some cases the University policies may not allow for a mediation option to resolution, for example in the case of an allegation of gross misconduct.

It should also be noted that in some cases senior managers may not wish to be involved in an informal process such as mediation, in case a formal procedure is later invoked. This would ensure their impartiality in any subsequent formal process and/or appeal.

Informal Processes

Mediation offers an opportunity to:

  • Carefully consider the issues regarding viability of concerns from both perspectives, as opposed to focusing on one or other personal position.
  • Take “time out” during the discussions to consider any mitigating circumstances for each person and to explore the issues with each person, as opposed to allowing positions to be adopted.
  • Use a reality test by asking people to consider any “immovable positions” which they may feel exist and helping them to try to think outside any possible constrained boxes or parameters.
  • Understand perceived need for certain management styles such as micro-management. An informal process allows for styles like this to be discussed openly and their impact shared  - with a view to finding a mutually agreeable resolution..

Mediation allows people to safely:

  • Stand back and adopt an “objective” viewpoint.
  • take time to consider their options and to share their concerns and emotions in a controlled manner.
  • vent or release stresses of the conflict to enable understandings on both sides of the impact of the conflict on both people
  • open a dialogue with the other person regardless of hierarchy or status , within the confines of the confidentiality of the process.
  • engage in respectful objective reflection exploring differing viewpoints