Louisa Weinstein – 7 Principles of Conflict Resolution
We were joined in the studio by Louisa Weinstein, author of 7 Principles of Conflict Resolution. Louisa is an extremely experienced mediator and trainer with a background in Corporate and Private Equity Law, Public Sector Consultancy and Social Enterprise.
She started her mediation career in 2003 specialising in corporate, property, commercial and employment disputes before setting up The Conflict Resolution Centre delivering mediation, training and early conflict resolution across the public and private sectors. Louisa draws on skills and experience acquired as a lawyer and subsequent Board Directorships and management consultancy work. She combines a commercial approach with an acute sensitivity and empathy for individuals involved.
Louisa joined us to talk about her new book – 7 Principles of Conflict Resolution
The seven principles of conflict resolution are a resource for individuals and organisations to defuse conflict resolve difficult situations and reach an agreement. And it does that in three main parts firstly we look at the theory of conflict and its resolution.
Secondly we look at the toolkit where you’ll find the seven principles in their full detail for most situations. And finally we’ll look at moving to mediation where early resolution hasn’t necessarily been effective. So looking at the theory, conflict starts when I disagree with you. I may have different ideas or perceptions to yours. But there is also a massive opportunity in conflict and that is for an even bigger idea to come out of our differences of opinion.
And also it’s important to understand that conflict is a Melting Pot of all sorts of ideas, thoughts, perceptions, facts, law. And in order to resolve it. We need to deconstruct those elements to identify what are the drivers, what’s going to make things work and what isn’t. So how do we do that? Well, we do that through the toolkit and the seven principles of conflict resolution really set out in detail, how to prepare for and act in all sorts of difficult conversations.
But there’s a really key theme that runs through which is how we understand the other person because, if I can understand you then I’m going to get a much bigger picture on the conflict and of your ideas in it and therefore of the solution because the solution is only ever going to be reached if you and I are at least half happy. So I need to ask you first of all what you want and how you see the situation being resolved or how you see it not being resolved. I need to ask you the difficult, but open questions, then I need to listen to what you have to say, and I need to really listen properly. So I need to reflect back to what I’ve heard, I need to be clear that what I’ve heard is actually what you’ve said.
And then I need to tell you where I am.
So only after I have asked and I’ve listened do I then tell you where I am and when I’ve told you, I then need to ask you what you think, and listen to that, listen to your response so that I can maybe come back to you and tell you where I am. And what this does is avoid me listening in order to respond, but rather helps me to listen in order that I can understand. The infrastructure that we have within our organisations and within our legal systems could also help us to resolve conflict earlier if they were slightly adapted.
In an organisation, for example you have the escalation of conflict that happens really quickly as a result of the systems that we have in place. We have maybe a performance issue that may be followed by a disciplinary. That may be accompanied by a grievance and it may then escalate to a tribunal or a financial settlement or court.
Because while all that is happening the relationship with the parties becomes further and further and further removed, and also affects their relationships with other people creating more conflicts within the organisation. So as much as the grievance and disciplinary process can escalate the conflict the early resolution schemes that I set out in the seven principles of conflict resolution, can deescalate the process very simply no matter what organisation or size you are.
First of all by having mentoring setting the expectations and the boundaries of both the individual and the organisation.
Second you’ll have you’ll have coaching. So personal coaching that doesn’t need to be formal coaching, but it’s coaching through conflict situations so that when I’m in a conflict, you can coach me towards my goals instead of egging me on and making the conflict worse. But sometimes managers need to step in and when they are if they are properly equipped as resolution agents with mediation skills, not necessarily as formal mediators at all, but with mediation skills.
They can help to resolve the conflict earlier, and that means by demonstrating confidentiality, but also real impartiality, showing you that I may spend more time with the other person. But I’m doing that in order to resolve the dispute and I understand that you have worries and preconceptions around how I’m going to deal with it. And I’m going to listen to those without undermining my position as a manager. But if the resolution agent doesn’t necessarily work, so well, you may use HR to informally mediate or an external mediator who will be able to demonstrate that they are fully impartial and able to manage the mediation in a confidential way. Ensuring a really, really comprehensive solution for the parties so that they can arrive back at the really big ideas and make both their job and the organisation better.