Encouraging The 3 R’s Of The Relational Process

relational processWhen you’re trying to mediate a workplace conflict, it involves more strategy than you may think. The average manager spends roughly 25% to 40% of their time handling workplace conflicts, which equals one to two days of every work week. One of the most effective ways to mediate workplace disputes is by using the relational process. In the relational process, the mediator should foster and model the three R’s: respect, recognition, and reflection.


In any interaction between human beings, respect is essential in creating a situation where everyone can see the humanity in each other. An effective mediator can establish respect as a core value by treating all parties the same way. A mediator should be curious, rather than judgmental, so that no one person immediately feels at fault. When the mediator continually listens and never interrupts anyone, they set the example for everyone else there. This allows conversation to flow and solutions to emerge while creating the possibility that some of the participants will soften on their positions.


As humans, we never want to have our opinions or perspectives be disregarded or our experiences discredited. Essentially, we do not want to be ignored. When a mediator establishes a practice of recognition in workplace mediation, they create a baseline of empathy. The mediator needs to cultivate each party’s ability to recognize the other’s viewpoints. While it does not necessarily equal agreement, this recognition allows everyone to feel understood and have their perspective validated. When each party can recognize the other’s point of view, it opens the door to mutual understanding and a road to a solution.


In the relational process, reflection starts with the mediator. An effective mediator should prepare for a session by engaging in self-reflection. When they do this, they become more self-aware, allowing for skills development and professional growth. This time for reflection centers the mediator and they are more likely to be a responsive, as opposed to a reactive, presence in the room. A mediator promotes reflection in the disputants by choosing questions that open the door for them to engage in the process, such as how they could have handled the situation and how their actions impacted the situation. Open communication led by the mediator can also encourage self-reflection in all parties.

When these three values are integrated into the relational model, the mediation focuses on the quality of interaction between the disputants. It also demonstrates from the very beginning that the mediator believes the conflict can be resolved, leading to a better chance of success