Mediating conflict

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When conflicts occur between team members, and the team members are unable to resolve the conflict themselves, you may need to step in and mediate the conflict.

Mediation is where a third party comes in and helps to resolve the dispute. The role of the mediator is to facilitate an open conversation about issues and needs and move the parties involved towards a solution.

Step 1: Meet with the individuals separately

It is important that you get a clear understanding of the situation from each person first. Often people have different perceptions around the situation.

The purpose of this meeting is to map the conflict and understand the issues, needs and concerns of each person individually. This can better support you in diagnosing the main issue and finding similarities (if any).

Step 2: Organise a meeting with all parties

You may find after conducting the individual meetings you have a clearer understanding of the issues and the common ground.

This is the time to now invite each person to come to a mediation session to discuss the situation and hopefully find a resolution.

Step 3: Mediation welcome and ground rules

  • Explain that each person will have the opportunity to share their perception of the situation and that each person also has the right to reply to the statements.
  • Explain that your role as the mediator is to remain impartial. You are not allowed to side with anyone or share any views.

Clarify the ground rules for the discussion, for example:

  • One person speaks at a time.
  • Each person must listen to the other without interrupting.
  • No raised voices, no insults, no sarcasm.

Step 4: Discuss

  • Encourage each person to share their view of the situation uninterrupted. This is an important step as the people in the conflict often don’t feel that they are being heard.
  • Thank the person for sharing their perspective on the situation.
  • Invite the person listening to reply to the statements made.
conflict management mediating conflict

Step 5: Summarise the key issues

  • Taking into account what you have heard, summarise the key issues.
  • Check with each person to ensure that you have accurately summed up the issues.

Step 6: Encourage options for a way forward

  • Explain that while the past cannot be changed, each individual can impact the future.
  • Invite each person to share what they need to move forward. It is important that these options are realistic e.g. stating that someone should resign is unrealistic.
  • Ask what each of them is willing to commit to after this meeting to move forward. You may find in this stage that the people involved begin to negotiate. It is important that you allow this to happen as they may resolve the conflict on their own. Ensure that you sit back and listen and only jump in where necessary.

Step 7: Confirm actions and outcomes

  • Confirm with each person that they feel they have had the opportunity to share their perception of the situation.
  • Confirm the actions and outcomes for each person and what they have committed to.
  • You may find that you may not have met all the needs; the purpose of mediation is to draw out the main issues and needs.
  • Thank each person for their time, their courage and their commitment to resolving the situation.

Step 8: Follow up

  • Contact the people involved in the meeting afterwards with a summary of the action points and dates.

Learn more

Next: Mapping a conflict