Conflict Mediation Essay:
Traditionally, human life is accompanied by numerous conflicts that appear regularly in different situation. In actuality, the life of human society grows more and more complicated increasing the probability of conflicts considerably. As a result, numerous conflicts become more and more widely spread in life of practically all people. At the same time, often conflicts affect the personality of an individual dramatically, to the extent that he/she needs the help of a professional. In such a situation, the role of practitioners can hardly be underestimated since they can fulfill the function of a mediator between the conflicting parties due to his/her professional skills, abilities and knowledge. However, it is extremely important that a practitioner remained a disinterested party in the process of conflict resolution. Otherwise, all the efforts to smooth the conflicting situation will be in vain.
First of all, it should be said that conflicts are inevitable and they may be potentially quite dangerous to human psychological state and even physical health. Many specialists (Wehr, 1979, McConnell, 1995), on researching the problem of conflicts arrived to the conclusion that conflicts deteriorates considerably the psychological balance and produce a profound depressing effect on an individual. In some cases, the depression caused by conflict may outgrow in some physical problems and “may lead to the loss of appetite, total physical exhaustion of human body and other serious problems”. (Veenema, 1994:31). Obviously, such effects of conflicts make their solution extremely important to individuals.
However, the resolution of conflicts is quite a complicated process. Often people “cannot resolve a conflict that exists between them without external assistance” (Veenema, 1994:32). In such situations, people need some mediation, i.e. the assistance of a professional who could resolve a conflict. In this respect, the assistance of practitioners as mediators in conflicts may be very helpful when no plausible solution to the conflict can be found. They can be quite effective mediators but only on the condition that they remain disinterested in the conflict. It should be pointed out that practitioners have a profound knowledge of the essence of conflicts and conflict situations as well as knowledge of human psychology that can help solve any conflict successfully. Consequently, they can apply their professional knowledge in the process of conflict resolution.
At the same time, it is necessary to remember that the success of the conflict mediation totally depends on the fact whether the practitioner is disinterested or not. To put it more precisely, a practitioner needs to be totally disinterested in the conflict because it is “the major condition of an effective mediation” (Hocker and Wilmot, 1985:148). Naturally, it is possible to argue that in some conflicts the opposing parties can come to agreement without the assistance of any mediator, including practitioner. However, in actuality, people often lack essential skills to solve conflicts, while practitioners possess these skills and knowledge. Nevertheless, in order to find some solution of the conflicting situation, a practitioner needs to be as objective as possible. Obviously, the objectivity and the absence of any personal or other interest in the conflict of a practitioner as a mediator is the major condition of the general success of the conflict mediation.
In fact, there are several reasons which make a practitioner effective mediator on the condition that he remains disinterested third party. Firstly, it should be said that one of the primary conditions of the “successful conflict mediation is the mutual trust of a mediator and both conflicting parties” (Hocker and Wilmot, 1985:158). In other words, each of the conflicting parties should totally believe to mediator and his/her desire to help. Naturally, in such a situation, the trust of the opposing parties should be based on the objectivity of a practitioner that means that a practitioner needs to be disinterested third party in order to maintain the trust of the conflicting parties in his/her objectivity. Otherwise, if one of the opposing parties suspects a practitioner that he/she has some interest in the conflict, the conflict mediation will surely fail because, in such a case, a practitioner will become not a mediator but just another party that will support its opponent in the conflict. In such a way, a mediator just becomes a supporter of one of the opposing parties in the conflict.
Furthermore, it should be said that the interest of a practitioner in the conflict makes him/her unable to find any plausible solution that will meet the interest of both opposing parties. In fact, the major function of the conflict mediation is “the assistance in the search of a consensus” (Veenema, 1994:36), i.e. an alternative solution of the conflict that could satisfy both conflicting parties. Obviously, if a mediator takes the side of one of the conflicting parties, he/she cannot offer alternative solution that would be harmful to the party he/she, consciously or not, supports.
At the same time, it is necessary to remember about the ethical aspect of this conflict resolution and mediation of practitioners. In this respect, it should be said that a mediator, especially practitioner, is supposed to be the objective party which reputation is perfect and unarguable. In such a situation, the support of one of the conflicting parties is ethically unacceptable because the successful mediation implies fair, just and trustful interaction of all participants of the process of the conflict mediation. In other words, both conflicting parties and a mediator should be absolutely fair and trustworthy. Otherwise, it is impossible to achieve any positive results in the process of the conflict mediation if at least one of the conflicting parties suspects a mediator in the unfairness or support of the opposing party. In such a way, the question of the necessity of a practitioner being the third disinterested party in the conflict is also an ethical question because the violation of this principle violates the basic ethical principles of the conflict mediation and undermines its effectiveness.
At the same time, it is necessary to remind that a practitioner should primarily take care about the interest of his/her clients, about their health and well-being. This, actually, does not mean that he/she has to support one of his/her clients in the conflict. In stark contrast, a practitioner should rather “fully explain to both opposing parties the essence of their conflict and represent it from an objective point of view” (Sorokin, 1987:211). In such a way, the opposing parties will be able to view the conflict objectively without referencing to their personal position but simply listening to the practitioner’s explanation and interpretation of the conflict. To put it more precisely, they will have a chance to view the conflict not from their own, highly subjective point of view but from the point of view of the mediator who should be objective and disinterested.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the major task of a practitioner in the conflict mediation is to remain disinterested and provide conflicting parties with an opportunity to carefully and rationally analyze the situation and assess the suggestions of each other, as well as those of the mediator, in order to find the solution that will meet the interests of both opposing parties. Thus, it is possible to say that, it is due to the high level of objectivity and the lack of interest or support of one of the opposing parties, a practitioner may be a really successful mediator in the process of the conflict resolution.
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