Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where people with disputes come together, sit down with a mediator, or mediators, and talk about ways to resolve their dispute. When someone has a conflict, he or she contacts the Neighbor-to-Neighbor office and asks for help.
We take down a bit of information about the dispute, including as much contact information about the other party as is known. Once we have phone numbers for both parties, the case is then assigned to a volunteer mediator who calls both parties to talk about what mediation can do for them.
The mediator invites the parties to schedule a mediation session. If both parties are willing to meet, the mediator sets up a time and place (usually at the Neighbor-to-Neighbor offices, but mediations can be held elsewhere).
When the parties meet, the discussion is usually facilitated by two mediators. Most of the time, agreements are reached. However, even if the parties don’t formalize their agreements, we generally find that they do come away from the process with new understandings, clarified information, and reduced stress in their relationships.
If you would like to know more about mediation, call the Neighbor-to-Neighbor office at 503-585-0651 and ask questions or request a brochure.
STEPS TOWARD RESOLVING CONFLICTS ON YOUR OWN, AND IN MEDIATION:
Assuming that there is no threat of physical violence, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem. Direct conversation is much more effective than sending a letter, banging on the wall, throwing a rock, or complaining to everyone else.
CHOOSE A GOOD TIME
Plan to talk to the other person at the right time, and allow yourself enough time for a thorough discussion. Don’t start talking about the conflict just as the other person is leaving for work, after you have had a terrible day, or right before you have to make dinner. Try to talk in a quiet place where you can both be comfortable and undisturbed for as long as the discussion takes.
Think out what you want to say ahead of time. State clearly what the problem is and how it affects you.
DON’T BLAME OR NAME CALL
Antagonizing the other person only makes it harder for him or her to hear you. Don’t blame the other person for everything or begin the conversation with your opinion of what should be done.
Don’t interpret the other person’s behavior: “You are blocking my driveway on purpose just to make me mad!” Instead, give information about your own feelings: “When your car blocks my driveway, I feel angry because I can’t get to work on time.”
Give the other person a chance to tell his or her side of the conflict completely. Relax and listen. Try to learn how the other person feels about what is going on.
SHOW THAT YOU ARE LISTENING
Although you may not agree with what is being said, tell the other person that you hear them and are glad that you are discussing the problem together.
TALK IT ALL THROUGH
Once you start, get all of the issues and feelings out into the open. Don’t leave out the part that seems too “difficult” to discuss or too “insignificant” to be important. Your solution will work best if all the issues are discussed thoroughly.
WORK ON A SOLUTION
When you have reached this point in the discussion, start working on a solution. Two or more people cooperating are much more effective than one person telling another to change. Be specific: “I will turn my music off at midnight” is better than a vague “I won’t play loud music anymore.”
Agree to check with each other at specific times to make sure that the agreement is still working…then really do it.