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Win at Work!: The Everybody Wins Approach to Conflict Resolution by Diane Katz PhD

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Chapter 7. Challenge 4 Mediate or Take a Side?

It isn't comfortable watching other people argue in front of you. Maybe you want one person to prevail, maybe not. You certainly don't want to get in the middle: the one in the middle gets the bullet hole! Earlier in my life, I tried to get in the middle, and was amazed that both sides ended up angry at me! After a number of unexpected bruises, I stopped going there.

Mediating is not putting yourself in the middle; it is facilitating discussion and problem solving. Mediators hold a position of neutrality—more accurately, they approximate neutrality, since it is almost impossible to be totally neutral. The best we can expect to do, as mediators, is keep our biases at bay and interfere as little as possible in the reconciliation process.

When two people at work are at war—or worse, when there are warring factions—the organization suffers, as do individuals. Information doesn't flow the way it should, and, as we all know, information is key to any organization's success. I believe that another reason, beyond greed that so many organizations go astray is due to all of the internal wars that go on. Often at such companies, the leaders don't try to stop the conflict, much less teach the combatants to problem solve; they either turn a blind eye or support one side over the other. In this way, they deliver a message to the troops that it's acceptable to argue, but just make sure you are on the winning side. Or, put another way, disagreements ...

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