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Chapter 10. Monkey in the Middle: Mediat... > Arbitration, or When Someone Just Ha... - Pg. 105

Monkey in the Middle: Mediation and Arbitration 105 Insider Secrets It's true silence is golden; so is patience. Particularly in mediation. Get comfortable with the silence and un- derstand that it doesn't mean that nothing is going on, but perhaps people are reflecting on their own behavior. That's a good thing. Sometimes silence comes just before some important insight. We live in such a noisy society that many of us are uncomfortable with silence that goes on too long. We tend to want to fill it up with words. Keep in mind that people need a chance to think and reflect and that often creates gaps in conversations. Wait them out. Framing Agreements and Following Up If/when the parties come to an agreement during the mediated session, that agreement should be clarified and recorded somehow, and each party should receive a copy. The agreement should be as specific as possible and refer to the changes in behavior each party has committed to. This Won't Work! An agreement that is vague and unclear may be worse than no agreement at all. The reason is that if there isn't clear understanding of the meanings of the agreement, it's likely the conflict will erupt again, this time even worse than before. Even worse, the parties will have less faith in the mediation process. So, what happens after an agreement is struck? It's a good idea to have follow-up meetings to discuss how the agreement is working, and whether any other issues need to be addressed. This allows further problem identification, and also shows that you are serious about making it work. So, that's the bare bones of manager-as-mediator. It's a nonjudgmental process that requires great skill and discipline on the part of the manager. Arbitration, or When Someone Just Has to Decide Compared to mediation, arbitration is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It doesn't rely on the ability of the two parties to solve their own difficulties. It uses authority to decide the issue. Arbitration refers to a process whereby a third party gets the facts of the issue, then makes a binding decision on behalf of both parties and the organization. So, in a sense, the arbitrator is the judge. While the mediator avoids judgments, the arbitrator makes judgments and a decision. Often that decision will include who does what with respect to solving the problem.