Profiler: The mediator

Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators: Facilitate negotiation and conflict resolution through dialogue. Resolve conflicts outside of the court system by mutual consent of parties involved.

Sample of reported job titles: Mediator, Arbitrator, Commissioner, Labor Arbitrator, Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator (ADR Coordinator), Federal Mediator, Public Employment Mediator, Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediator (ADR Mediator), Arbiter, Community Relations Representative.

Tasks

•Confer with disputants to clarify issues, identify underlying concerns, and develop an understanding of their respective needs and interests.

•Use mediation techniques to facilitate communication between disputants, to further parties’ understanding of different perspectives, and to guide parties toward mutual agreement.

•Set up appointments for parties to meet for mediation.

•Prepare settlement agreements for disputants to sign.

•Organize and deliver public presentations about mediation to organizations such as community agencies and schools.

•Analyze evidence and apply relevant laws, regulations, policies, and precedents in order to reach conclusions.

•Prepare written opinions and decisions regarding cases.

•Arrange and conduct hearings to obtain information and evidence relative to disposition of claims.

•Rule on exceptions, motions, and admissibility of evidence.

•Determine existence and amount of liability, according to evidence, laws, and administrative and judicial precedents.

Knowledge

English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Personnel and Human Resources — Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Skills

Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Abilities

Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Work Activities

Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

Work Context

Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Freedom to Make Decisions — How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?

Spend Time Sitting — How much does this job require sitting?

Contact With Others — How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?

Electronic Mail — How often do you use electronic mail in this job?

Structured versus Unstructured Work — To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?

Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?

Frequency of Conflict Situations — How often are there conflict situations the employee has to face in this job?

Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — How do the decisions an employee makes impact the results of co-workers, clients or the company?

Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?

Education

Most of these occupations require a four – year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.

Interests

Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Styles

Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.

Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Work Values

Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.

Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employs to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Regarding the importance of certain attributes, please visit: http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/23-1022.00 in order to see the percentage of user’s expectations.

An approach to mediation

While preparing the conflict resolution design, the mediator has to master his knowledge of legal issues, psychology, human geography, communication styles and methodology of mediation. To help him build up a concept of operations, here is a litte overview of the most important topics for a dispute settlement design:

Conflict and violence are not the same thing
Conflict can be defined as a state of disharmony between persons, ideas, or interests, and is used to denote both a process and a state of being. Violence is commonly defined as the aggressive use of force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or coercing, as well as an abusive or unjust exercise of power. Whereas conflict is not inherently negative or damaging, and can in fact produce positive outcomes, violence always results in injury and destruction.

Adversarial versus cooperative approaches to conflict
Adversarial approaches to dispute settlement occur when parties in conflict perceive themselves as opponents competing for mutually incompatible outcomes in which one side wins and the other loses. Typically, issues in dispute become polarized, feelings and perceptions become hostile, options are narrowed, communication between parties is restricted or non-existent, and disputants strive for all-or-nothing solutions. By contrast, the cooperative or problem-solving approach involves both sides collaborating – merging resources to seek solutions that address everyone’s interests and are mutually beneficial. This approach to dealing with conflict is characterized by the use of joint problem-solving techniques, respectful communication and the pursuit of win-win solutions.

Advocating for common ground
“Understand the differences, act on the commonalities.” Today’s problems – whether ethnic, environmental, or economic – are too complex and interconnected to be resolved on an adversarial basis. It is our assumption that everyone’s interests are best served by reframing the issues in a non-adversarial way, and advocating for a process that can maximize the gain of all those with a stake in the outcome. While ethnic, cultural and religious disparities may seem insurmountable in difficult conflict situations, common ground between parties can be found where interests overlap, and mutually beneficial solutions can come to the fore.

Impartiality versus neutrality You can be impartial, if not completely neutral. Being partial means defending one side or the other. Being impartial is working with people on both sides – our hearts might go out to those we feel have been wronged, naturally – however, our work is to bring people to the table to talk, to get them into dialogue about what they can do to improve the situation. We are not advocates for either side, but for finding common ground: it is not about justice for one but justice for all.

Reframing
Reframing, or creating a new context, is a technique of shifting the perception of a situation or problem to give it a different and/or more constructive interpretation. In mediation and negotiation, this method is used to recast a conflict in neutral terms to break deadlocks or stalemates and make further progress in attaining a joint resolution. In popular management literature, it is often referred to as causing a paradigm shift.

Conflict management versus conflict resolution
For those unfamiliar with the terminology of this field, there can be great confusion about these two concepts. Conflict management generally involves taking action to keep a conflict from escalating further – it implies the ability to control the intensity of a conflict and its effects through negotiation, intervention, institutional mechanisms and other traditional diplomatic methods. It usually does not address the deep-rooted issues that may be at the cause of the conflict or attempt to bring about a solution. Conflict resolution, by contrast, seeks to resolve the incompatibilities of interests and behaviours that constitute the conflict by recognizing and addressing the underlying issues, finding a mutually acceptable process and establishing relatively harmonious relationships and outcomes.

Choosing between hope and despair
It is human nature to experience feelings of despair, hopelessness and depression in destructive or intractable situations. We make the assertion that despair is a choice that hinders action. The people we work with on a daily basis are courageously choosing the alternative – hope – and are working through the personal anguish that arises in conflict situations to accomplish something constructive. The world is becoming more and more diverse, and its potential – both negative and positive – has never been greater. We believe it is critical to choose to work together creatively to turn that diversity into progress.

Breakdowns to breakthroughs
Often a breakdown in the functioning of a community, organization or government is considered a disastrous event with dire consequences. By shifting our perception, such occurrences can also be viewed as opportunities to step back and analyze problems, relationships and miscommunications. When the underlying causes of breakdowns are illuminated and addressed in this way it can lead to a breakthrough in cooperation and productivity. Learning from past difficulties is the surest way to avoid future mistakes and prevent conflicts from reoccurring.

Positions versus interests
Positions are points of view that are generally more specific and narrower in scope than interests, which typically underlie (and can include many) positions. Interests tend to be fundamental needs, while a position is often a statement of opinion about how to achieve that need. A position is much more easily altered than an interest. There are always places where parties’ interests overlap in a conflict, whereas positions may appear mutually exclusive. The more intense the dispute, the farther apart positions tend to be from each other.

Attack problems, respect people
Transforming conflict can be as simple as reframing a situation – creating a new context in which people attack problems, rather than each other. The perception of a situation can be shifted so that both sides are working together on a common problem, rather than seeing each other as the problem. To address the problem in a cooperative problem-solving manner, it is important to discover mutual interests, generate options and develop agreements as steps for maintaining harmonious relations while dealing with problems directly.

Active listening
When two parties in conflict are speaking with each other, one or both sides are often more concerned with formulating a response and winning the argument than listening attentively. Active listening is a structured form of communication that focuses the attention on the speaker in order to improve mutual understanding and facilitate problem solving. The listener must attend fully to the speaker, and then reflect back what he or she has heard; enabling both parties to find out if the message was fully understood. This process serves to reduce misunderstandings, encourage positive exchanges, and deepen mental and emotional understanding of each side’s concerns to create a relationship conducive to mutual problem-solving.

Active speaking
Active speaking is a communication process whereby a speaker appeals to another individual’s higher self – the deepest level of humanity within each individual where dignity, integrity and compassion resonate the strongest. Often the key to achieving this is for the speaker to come from a place of respect, compassion and understanding. Active speaking is a courageous, creative act that usually requires the speaker to rise above their fears and concerns and speak from their own highest sense of self.

Perceptions versus reality
From the conflict resolution perspective, the absolute reality of a conflict situation is often less important than what each party’s perception of that situation is. For example, while there may be no actual stated threat of violence between groups, the simple perception of a threat may be enough to bring one or both disputants to action. It is necessary to consider perceptions objectively and without value judgments, in an attempt to determine how such perceptions can create misunderstandings, limit options and hinder communication.

Transforming stereotypes
Typically in protracted conflicts, extremely negative stereotypes of opposing parties form based on their group identities. This can lead to dangerous assumptions that can devolve to the point where adversaries become dehumanized, opening the door to violence and genocide. One of our main goals in working with identity-based conflicts is to shift such negative perceptions, re-humanizing combatants in each other’s eyes and paving the way for cooperative problem-solving. Methods for transforming stereotypes include facilitating inter-group contact, conducting workshops and activities that help to build social cohesion, and providing information via mass media that reduces the fear and misunderstanding.

Expanding identity
Often in violent, intractable conflicts, group identity is the central dividing factor around which a dispute revolves. Such a partition of identity creates an “us versus them” mentality, which inhibits communication and diminishes peaceful resolution options. In order to remove these barriers, an overarching level of identification that includes both parties must be developed, thereby creating a new category, which places disputants in a better position to work toward a common future. A successful example of expanding identity is South Africa’s transformation from the divisive apartheid system of Blacks versus Whites into the inclusive Rainbow Nation.

Reference: Yarn, D., 1999, Dictionary of Conflict Resolution. Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco.