Where is the Best Place to Resolve Conflict?
- Choose a safe, neutral environment. Ideally, this location should be away from the scene of the conflict. It should have no physical or emotional ties for one party or the other. A hotel conference room, for instance, is often an ideal meeting place.
- Acknowledge the importance of emotions. Everyone has them, even if we don't like to admit it. A mediator has to know how to make each party feel emotionally validated and free to voice their opinions. Again, a neutral environment facilitates this best.
- Ensure that discussions are confidential and information disclosed can not be later "used against" someone later. A neutral meeting location is an important element of making confidentiality a reality.
- Ensure negotiations are voluntary. Mediation should not feel like punishment. Proper mediation protocol requires both sides have the freedom to discontinue proceedings at any time. It is a lot easier to walk away from a hotel conference room than your boss's office - but it can also be a lot easier to stay.
The importance of a neutral location cannot be overstated; this facilitates a dialogue instead of a monologue, and ideally, each party is able to communicate freely without fear of reprisal. Mediation is designed to allow both parties to regain some control while working towards a mutually acceptable agreement. For that to happen, there should not be a home team and an away team.