Viewing entries tagged
conflict resolution

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Being an Ombuds is like being a Bandaid

I was recently talking with one of the owners of a company that I have been contracted to work with, and he was asking me about the benefits of hiring an Ombuds. Besides all of the regular and most common reasons, he unexpectedly asked, “if you would have to make an analogy about being an Ombuds, what would that be?”  

My answer was quite simple; an Ombuds is like a Band-Aid.  

I imagine that many of my Ombuds’ colleagues are frowning, screaming, yelling “say what?”… and so on. I still stand on my analogy, being an Ombuds is like being a Band-Aid. If this analogy makes you think as a Band-Aid as treatment for symptoms instead of causes, take a step back and see the multiple utilities of it. I hope to show you how Band-Aid/Ombuds can be creative and unconventional. 

Everything we stand for as Ombuds is to make othersfeel safe, open, and willing to change and evolve. As Ombuds, we have a very important role, which is not used as much as it needs to be. This is either because people don’t know what an Ombuds’ role actually is, or because people maintain the ignorant, old mentality of “why fix it if it’s not broken”. For me, the most important role of an Ombuds is to prevent conflicts from happening, not to fix them when they arise. Yet, I feel as though I am getting into that “fixer” role more often than not. How about my fellow Ombudspeople?

Hence, where the “Band-Aid” analogy comes from. We are just like a Band-Aid that we put on our feet after buying new shoes. We are the Band-Aid that preventsthe blister from happening, that allows us to keep pushing forward, that brings us safety from harm. When we use a Band-Aid, we have the ability to walk around and  “show off” our shoes and to stay productive all day. Moreover, by preventing a blister we will be comfortable, not crippled, next time we wear a pair of shoes. 

How is that related to the Ombuds profession? As the Band-Aid, our profession prevents conflicts from arising or escalating, it makes people feel confident and at ease as they do their best and move forward, it helps companies and organizations “show off” their employees’ productivity, happiness, and determination to come to work. Moreover, the Ombuds role, like the Band-Aid, may make people be uncomfortable in the moment while trying to prevent conflicts, or blisters, but in the long run will make the entire system work effectively and fairly.

Finally, after I told the owner of the company my analogy he looked at me and said, “I went out without putting on Band-Aids before, and certainly I got really hurt and uncomfortable, now I am smarter and the Band-Aid will be there, as my Ombuds”. Whenever companies realize how much harm blisters can cause, they will start opening more Ombuds offices. 

**This was also posted at the Member-Only International Ombudsman Association Blog [The Independent Voice], and I thought would be important for everyone to have access to this opinion.

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What to do in High Conflict Disputes?

I was in a Mediation Conference in Los Angeles (SCMA) and in one of the sessions I enjoyed this method and research of what to do in high conflict disputes. Hence I will share my take aways from it and I will add some of my perspectives and studies on it as well. I have dealt with a lot of High Conflict People over the years, either in court mediations, private clients that are couples, or with individuals in recovery, therefore I have successfully use many of these strategies with them. 

What NOT to do?

1) Do not give advices - I completely agree that giving advices to someone that is a high conflict person would be detrimental for the potentiality of resolving the conflict, as the person would not be able to listen to what you need to say, and would see it as a personal attack

2) Forget about using the Past! It is common today that people in "hot" emotional field mode would see your illustration of the past as extremely negative and as you are trying to show that you are right and they are wrong. *In case of using a positive anecdote, then could be positive into change the conflict in a positive way, however be cautious to use it in high conflict disputes, I personally would not use it in this type of disputes.

3) Avoid emotional confrontation. It is pivotal to keep yourself "checked in" constantly, that is due to the fact that emotional contagion may happen and you cannot let the high conflict person make you angry or competitive. Keep yourself cooperative and remain neutral in those situations.

4) Do not try to diagnose their condition. Many times people try to explain a certain behavior related to the high conflict person with a diagnostic, hence it would bias your view of the case and the person itself, so avoid from trying to diagnose their condition if there is any. 

Those are important areas to focus on when in dispute with a high conflict person, in which could be in a professional setting or a personal one. In mediation I encounter a lot of high conflict people that are difficult and usually rigid in their positions, where makes the mediation more complicated to be resolved. 

What to DO in those disputes?

1) Connect! Building rapport in the initial moment of contact is pivotal for the continuous conversation with the parties. It is clear that connecting with whoever you are conversing with would help the parties to be more open and cooperative. 

2) Create and explain the structural process of the conversation. It seems to be positive to structure a conversation with high conflict disputes, in which the people involved would feel more in control and would be able to "see" the future, where would meet their expectations and potential for a resolution. 

3) Have ground rules. Explain what you expect to be the ground rules (e.g. respect, wait for another to stop speaking, etc) makes the high conflict person feel secure and also would set boundaries in order to prevent moments that they would lose control

4) Give them something to be distracted with. Yes, just like that, distracting the high conflict person with a task would make them less focus on the emotional field. 

Finally, working with high conflict people is a skill everyone needs to learn, especially if you are in a field that have a lot of them around you. Furthermore, dealing with high conflict people would require training or even better someone that works on the field of conflict resolution and mediation to assist with those conversation, to open dialogue, and avoid potential legal matters that mostly can be resolved with Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Specialist. 

 

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When attacked with blame, what should I do?

When someone is being rigid and inflexible, they may be attacking you with blaming statement and positions that causes confrontations, in those moments remind yourself to:

  • Be confident on understanding the other's perspectives, in which is different from yours - Hence avoid attacking back
  • Listen carefully...and ACTIVELY. The other person must need to feel heard and understood (The attack may be a "cry for attention" - give it to them)
  • Shift the interaction from competitive to cooperative. Acknowledge the different perspectives and explain the parts of the truthful facts there are
  • Focus on how can you both work together - Similarities into achieving the relationship goals are important to be mentioned
  • You need to stay calm! Frustrations need to be used creatively, hence patience is a must
  • Be warm and respectful - People recognize those and may be lenient into giving you the same

Blaming must be an easy fix that many people look to when there is no one taking responsibility, or they may not to be taken accountable, or they are afraid, or they are just not aware of the mysterious things that are happening that one doesn't know... Blame could be done and said, yet it is just building a negative interaction with whomever it is, hence it will not be a relationship that one wants to cherish. 

Do an experiment... Ask the closest person you have in your daily lives and ask them to tell you when you are using blame or even complaining. How many times will you do it in a week, 3 days, or even one day? - Be aware that you have to be ready to hear the unexpected, be aware that you also asked for it, then when your loved one tell you those answers s/he has nothing to be blamed for!

I am here to help you to help yourself... Let me know how can I assist!

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Irresistible Communication and Perception

          How to communicate is something very interesting for me. So, how one can use Irresistible Communication strategies and what is the play of perception in it?

          The first thing I have to say is that communication is a lot based on the communicator's reality. When one person is trying to communicate to another, what one is saying is based on their own reality. Their made-by-experience script.

          Effective communication is when one is able to change the other's way of viewing their own world, for example usually clients are stuck in a particular moment or situation, however as an Ombudsman I see a multitude of options that would be able to make the client empowered and free, yet s/he is not seeing any options. The client is usually completely focused on the negative feeling hence being stuck – immovable. Therefore, changing one’s perspective generates options and flexibility. Further, it is pivotal to show the client that the Facilitator is present to help them to help themselves.

          Continually I believe that the particular experience of moments one may see as “setback" could be moments of learning and unprecedented opportunities to know something new about the world and oneself. Even learning something negative about oneself is an incredible chance of self discovery. For example I was in a situation where I was very uncomfortable because I thought I was regressing in work life, and what I realized was that when I am feeling that way I tend to close myself off, over and over again. Not anymore… I have learned to use those opportunities to know how to talk more effectively with people that are on those situations, and ask myself what am I learning on those moments that I could use in the future.

          Therefore, there is constantly in most moments in life a positive side that one can find… Let’s look for those and make them apparent to us.

           How about to be more effective in communicating with others? Here are some ways to be irresistible:

Avoid making quick assumptions

In any given situation our ability to make assumptions, whether they are extremely easy to read or not, is pretentiously quick. I think is better to refrain yourself to make an assumption, and ask questions to understand the situation better and then able to make a correct assessment.

Be Flexible

When you are communicating with another person, try out ways of using different language patterns, body language, and tone until you find the one that the receptor is demonstrating to be more comfortable with you. Ergo, see what works and what doesn’t.

Be Concise

Many times we try to explain something in a long and detail message, however I have noticed that many times a quick, five-word phrase would do the job - There are times that well explained messages are necessary for accuracy, yet for a quick directive order being concise would be best

            Finally, effective communication is about the connection you have with the other. Hence, I believe is the moment that you express yourself effectively is where one is transform from talking to being fully understood.

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Planning Platform for Conflict Analysis

Here are a structured table for you to analyze your own conflict! This form will assist you to be able to find out better ways to constructively resolve your conflict...

Contact me with any questions.

Have Fun!!

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Escalation of Conflicts

    There are so many moments in life that we get heated and conflicts may get out of hand! How many times have ever gotten to a moment that you have "lost it" and went all the way from anger to violence?

    - Those moments are possible to be avoided. 

    The first step is to understand and be aware of the potential reasons for those "outbursts", in which could come from a psychological or a situational side for example. (Keep in mind which ones relate to you)

Psychological (Think of your own)

  1. The need for power, achievement, and/or affiliation

  2. A competitive orientation - Win/Lose positioning

  3. Intrapersonal conflicts - The "stuff" within we tell ourselves "it has nothing to do with that"

  4. Biased information 

  5. Overthinking or even "thoughts rumination" 

  6. Scripts (The ideas, concerns, and histories that one have already created or have lived with the other, in which every interaction will be relived or pre-constructed in advance)

Situational

  1. Ambiguity about power

  2. Time Pressure

  3. Lack of information 

  4. Unstable social situations

  5. Changes (Even slight changes on communications, perceptions, issues, and expectations)

"When these areas play a role in the conflict, we may 'lose it' and make it escalate rapidly, being aware of which one is yours might help out"

    It is clear that the situational ones are very difficult to predict since it is basically out of your control, in the other hand the psychological ones could be the ones we can mostly control, or I mean do out best to control it.

    Even though for me it was challenging to control my psychological attributes during conflicts, it is not only achievable it gets better with practice. 

    Getting "really good" at dealing with conflicts have to come from educating yourself about it and practicing it daily. 

Practice! - That is key!

"Dealing with conflicts constructively is challenging, yet when you become your true self, the 'whom' you want to portray to others, the best version of yourself... You will not be dealing with conflicts, you'll be transforming them" - Hans Kohler

 

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