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December 2015

 

Rubbernecking and conflict mediation
Cynthia Eaton

 

dante morelli
Dante Morelli listens to trainer Stephen LaLonde during the Conflict Mediation Program training in January 2015. (photo by Elizabeth Cone)

“It’s like a car accident on the LIE,” Dante Morelli said. “Everybody rubbernecks. Everybody ties up traffic because they just have to look. Everybody loves to see what happened.”

Morelli was introducing the FA’s new Conflict Mediation Program (CMP) at the December 1 Eastern Congress meeting, as he had previously done for the Grant Assembly and Ammerman Senate.

As coordinator of the CMP, Morelli continued: “What people forget is that somebody else has to come in and do the dirty but necessary work of cleaning up that wreck. We can’t just leave it there, clogging up lanes on the LIE. Conflict is like this too. People love to hear the gossip, people love to spread the gossip, but people don’t like to do the dirty but necessary work of addressing what caused the ‘crash’ in the first place.”

The structure of the CMP, then, is brilliant because it disallows rubbernecking and enables creative solutions to the clean up process.

First, the meetings are completely confidential. Nobody knows about your mediation except for the other individual(s) involved and your mediators. Everyone signs a confidentiality agreement. This gives you the security you need to speak openly and freely yet respectfully to the individual(s) with whom you’re seeking mediation (it might be another FA member, your supervisor or a member of the support staff). They, in turn, can feel safe when speaking with you too. Everyone can rest assured that what’s shared in that room won’t leave that room. This process provides a safe, secure space in which to address that conflict. There will be no rubberneckers.

Second, the mediators have undergone intensive training on conflict mediation, and they’ve learned how to guide individuals to resolve their own conflict, to find their own solutions. The creativity of this process can also build trust and respect between or among those who’ve experienced conflict.

It doesn’t matter who started it. It doesn’t matter who comes up with a better solution. Each party indicates what they’d like to see by way of a resolution, and they work together to figure out how to make that happen. The CMP isn’t a tow truck service. When you come for mediation, you are the clean up crew. And that’s a good thing.

We’ve all experienced some degree of conflict. Maybe it upsets you that a relatively mild misunderstanding has been left to fester. Maybe someone at the college has been actively spreading rumors or lies about you. Maybe you’ve exchanged harsh words with a colleague, which led to a yelling match. Whatever the issue, the FA’s CMP can help. Nobody likes to have an adversarial relationship with colleagues.

Call Dante Morelli at 451-4963 to get started with your own confidential, creative mediation process.