Mediation in the Media – banging the drum for communication skills

Posted on: February 11, 2013

Yesterday I was a guest on BBC radio London on the Jeni Barnett show.  Talking about conflict at work, I was interviewed by the host and answered questions from callers to the programme.  As someone who has worked in the mediation field for over twenty years I was reminded how mediation and good communication skills are still not visible in the media.  Quite the opposite – with a diet ranging from Prime Minister’s Question time to Eastenders (and everything in between), we are subjected to a repeated cultural message that the way to work out our differences is to attack and ridicule one another.  No wonder so many people are unhappy at work and employment tribunal claims are going through the roof.

In my view, about 80% of conflict at work could be resolved satisfactorily if managers had better training in communication skills – that’s a lot of unhappiness and lost productivity which could be avoided.  The simple formula of saying:

(1) When you did [describe behaviour]

(2) I felt [describe your feelings] and

(3) What I would like you to do is [describe new behaviour]

is still a revelation to most people.  “Punch and Judy” politics has a certain entertainment value but is no way for us to run our organisations or lead our lives.  Those of us who believe in the power of mediation and good communication skills need to take every opportunity we can to spread the word to wider society.  Conflict resolution is cool!