There is usually no distinct point at which a personal or business matter goes from being cooperative to being contentious. Rather, the origins of a conflict can begin with a series of misunderstandings or miscommunications, with both sides, either consciously or not, contributing to an escalation of differences. The result may be a crystallization of positions and an increasing inability to find areas of compromise. Constructive communication often then ceases.

We cannot control our feelings, but we can decide whether to act on the impulses that are triggered by them. Acknowledging and trying to understand our emotional inclinations can help us avoid reactive and disproportionate approaches that may lead to full blown conflict and the diversion of time and resources that follows. Significant disputes can divert us from our goals and deplete our energies.

Mediators are trained to understand the trajectory and dynamics of conflict and through experience, learn how to apply this knowledge. Unlike lawyers who can only speak to their client or to the other side’s attorney, a mediator can communicate with all sides. This sometimes take place in a joint conference, but can also occur in confidential meetings with the parties separately. Understanding the goals and needs of all sides creates a tremendous opportunity for resolution.

Most critically, good mediators are talented listeners and keen observers, hearing both the factual content of what is conveyed and absorbing non-verbal cues that are also part of human communication and interaction. While DMG recognizes that not every dispute will be settled, by understanding the parties interests, DMG helps them to prioritize these interests and to develop an appropriate and reasonable resolution.