mediation problems

About the author : Kent McGroarty

Whether you are the designated mediator at your job or work in conjunction with others to solve workplace conflicts, problems can arise. Mediation problems are not uncommon parts of these important processes, especially when scheduled work conflict resolution is a new thing. Learn about common mediation problems here to help your workplace avoid them or at least find effective, efficient ways to resolve them.

Parties Not Willing to Meet Face-to-Face

Sometimes, conflicts between two or more employees are so intense that the parties do not want to meet in person. They might even refuse to be on the same floor as the other party or parties, creating further difficulties. If you believe the initial meeting will do more harm than good if it is face-to-face, discuss alternatives. It might be best for the mediator to meet with each party first to determine conflict perspectives and details before moving forward with an in-person resolution session. If the parties still refuse to see each other face-to-face, gently remind them that this is a workplace and they will eventually need to be in the same room. Otherwise, the conflict will not get resolved and further problems can result, such as workplace tension and employee transfers.

Excessive Distractions

The room selected for mediation should be private, quiet, and distraction-free. Televisions, music, and the chattering of nearby employees are among the distraction-related mediation problems that can make solving issues in a timely manner difficult. If you do not have the space for a designated mediation room, find a space you can use temporarily, such as a meeting room in the back of the office. You want everyone involved to be able to hear themselves and listen to the other parties clearly to streamline conflict resolution processes.

Low Confidence

Effective mediators and team leaders are confident individuals who know what they are good at and use it to their advantage. They expect respect from their peers and employees, and reciprocate that respect. Low confidence in a mediator does not inspire respect among those under mediation, which can stifle conflict resolution because the staff members do not take the process seriously. If you feel you lack confidence in your mediation or leadership abilities, consider taking a conflict resolution or leadership training course.

Negotiation Impasses

Unfortunately, there are instances where neither party agrees on a solution and stays married to their ideas about the problem. If mediation has gone on for some time without resolution, take a break and reconvene. It might be a good idea to take lunch and return to the issue in the afternoon, or wait a few days in between sessions while everyone involved has a chance to calm down and reflect.


Thinking too much about the mediation problems at hand can result in speaking out of turn or impulsively, which does not solve the problem. Remember, it is your job to listen first as the mediator, not think about which party is in the wrong. Overthinking can also be distracting, which prevents you from hearing all of the necessary information and providing effective solutions. If you find yourself overthinking in mediation situations, practice deep breathing and make listening to all parties your focus.

Insufficient Training

Lack of training can make any mediator ineffective because they do not have the right tools and resources to pull from. If your first foray into the mediation world was not as successful as you had hoped, training problems once again provide viable solutions. Find a program that speaks to your needs and get the help you need for optimal success.

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About the author : Kent McGroarty