VMN Blog

  • 12/07/2023 2:39 PM | Ayce Bukulmeyen Ozerdem

    Unhealthy work conditions can create enormous human and financial costs. So much research shows that unresolved conflict often impairs well-being. American businesses lose $359 billion dollars yearly due to unresolved conflict and low productivity (Kauth, 2020). The physical, emotional, psychological, and interpersonal tolls are incalculable.

    In this statement, it is crucial to focus on the term "unresolved" rather than "conflict.” The conflict may be justified, but the challenge lies in finding a fair resolution, whether positively or negatively. The way in which conflict is experienced or resolved can affect the well-being of those involved.

    Many workplaces focus on maintaining a professional demeanor, avoiding conflicts, being hesitant to admit errors, and refraining from taking risks. Conversations are stilted and limited. There is a lack of openness and trust, which leads to confusion, grievances, and a lack of sense of control. This is unhealthy for everyone. Employers should establish trust and openness for better culture, cost savings, engagement, and productivity. To create a courageous environment where people can speak out about what's right, dignities must be fed with honorable debate skills.

    Clear communication is crucial for mental and physical well-being, navigating organizational stress, and maintaining good mental health.

    It is evident that employee health affects productivity.

    Constant worry and stress in the workplace can lead to unproductive workdays. In a study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 56% of employees reported that their anxiety and stress affected their work performance. They can impair the ability to communicate effectively, empathize with others, and resolve conflicts.

    OUR BIOLOGY IS THE KEY

    Our biology is the reason behind this fact. When a person is stuck in a dispute for weeks, months, or even years, the constant fight-flight-freeze response can lead to exhaustion. Two stress hormones triggered by conflict are adrenaline and cortisol. The production of adrenaline and cortisol during this enduring situation might put the person's mental health at risk. Adrenaline ramps up and diminishes quickly, but cortisol uses a different, slower pathway in the body — through the bloodstream rather than the nervous system. Cortisol is a hormone that affects our judgment subtly, often without us even realizing it. People experiencing high cortisol levels perceive their opponents as angrier and more threatening than they appear to those with lower stress levels. A person with high cortisol levels often struggles to see others' perspectives. These changes usually happen without us being aware of them.

    To achieve constructive resolution, emotions are critical players in any conflict. Maintaining composure, despite heightened emotions, is crucial to a successful resolution. To remain calm during conflicts and prevent escalation, we must master our minds and emotions. International mediator and negotiator William Ury says during times of conflict, the person we need to deal with is not the person on the other side of the table. It is the person on this side of the table. It is the person we look at in the mirror every morning, ourselves.

    He believes the power not to react but rather to go to the balcony. He says when things escalate, go to the balcony, a mental and emotional balcony, which means a place of calm, perspective, and self-control where you can stay focused on your interests and remind yourself of your guiding questions and why you are there. Working on being the master of our minds and learning special techniques for releasing anxiety, overcoming negative talk, and being able to go to the balcony when needed should be a priority for us.

    MANAGE YOURSELF FIRST, BEFORE DEALING THE CONFLICT

    To improve social skills when dealing with stress and anxiety, it is vital to have a program of activities that prioritizes the health and well-being of staff.

    When businesses prioritize empowering employees, they foster cohesive teams that are more invested in their work and the company's values, leading to excellent retention rates. So, how do we do that?

    Again, our biology is the key.

    We have two different nervous systems in our bodies.

    One is for stress, and one is for the calming response.

    The sympathetic Nervous System is our survival mode, and the Parasympathetic Nervous System is for relaxation, restoration, rest, and good digestion. we need to learn how to activate and strengthen it.

    So, we need to activate the calming response system consciously.

    For that, we need to engage with our bodies more and more.

    How do we do that?

    SOPHROLOGY

    Sophrology is a straightforward, practical, and powerful approach with many benefits. The main goal in Sophrology is to engage more with our bodies rather than our minds.

    It is a well-being method based on dynamic relaxation, deliberate breathing techniques, gentle movements, meditation, and visualization to balance mind and body and feel empowered in the Modern World. Widely used throughout Europe since it commenced 60 years ago, Sophrology is now becoming increasingly popular in the US. It has earned its reputation as ‘the’ method for reducing stress and anxiety, which we need to maintain our challenges and conflicts in life, amongst other issues such as sleep problems, self-esteem issues, and pain management.

    This complementary therapy, which combines the best of Eastern mindfulness techniques and Western relaxation exercises, has been widely researched with a proven impact on reducing the effects of these issues and conditions.

    TO MANAGE A CONFLICT, WE NEED TO MANAGE OURSELVES,

    To put it briefly, we have many built-in and fast-reacting mechanisms within the brain. They have kept us safe for thousands of generations. While they still have great value sometimes, they can also cause us considerable mental and physical harm when operating inappropriately. Learning conflict resolution or dispute prevention techniques solely will not be helpful if we can’t be masters of our biological impulses.

    In other words, effective conflict-dispute resolution techniques must involve robust biological-mental management techniques.

    A conflict is the arrow pointing to what we need to learn the most, as Kenneth Cloke (2011) made a profound statement. We need to be familiar with our stressors and triggers and work to manage them for our own good.

    Techniques such as Sophrology teach resilience and adaptability skills, which promote thriving, not just survival and coping mechanisms.

    Research from Kent University indicates the benefits to be gained from offering sophrology sessions to employees - even during the most difficult of circumstances- as such intervention can still have a positive impact on employees’ physical and mental health.

  • 12/07/2023 2:25 PM | Andrew Pizzi

    Consensus is a process by which individuals reach agreement through discussion, negotiation, and compromise.  Unlike unilateral or majority vote decisions, consensus includes the ideas and concerns of all participants in order to reach an agreement acceptable to everyone. 

    Building consensus is an essential skill for ADR practitioners who work with groups and/or individuals. It can reduce conflict, promote collaboration, and generate creative solutions.  As ADR practitioners we deal with individuals who have different perspectives and conflicting opinions, and reaching consensus often seems like an elusive goal.  Yet, we can strive to reach consensus by understanding a few key principles.

    Any successful decision using consensus requires active participation from everyone. We must seek and consider each individual’s input, regardless of their position, status, or background. When individuals are encouraged to participate, there is a greater tendency to share thoughts, feelings, and valid information. 

    In conjunction with inclusiveness, consensus requires collaboration and open communication.  Everyone must work together to express their opinions, ideas, actively listen to others and seek to find common ground.  A collaborative approach encourages allows you to work through differences, that does lead to greater teamwork and mutual respect, which are vital to building consensus. 

    Because consensus decisions must be acceptable to all, it requires from each participant the ability to compromise, be flexible and share responsibility.  We need to adjust our initial preference(s) in order to reach an agreement that benefits the entire group.  Also, as we are listening to others, we must adapt to changing information or circumstances that may occur during the discussion.  

    As individuals/groups strive for consensus, not everyone may agree with the decision being made.  In those situations, those individuals have a responsibility to share not only their concerns about what is potentially being agreed to, but also need to share what would help them reach agreement.   This allows for continued discussion and negotiation that could result in a resolution that everyone can accept. 

    Consensus is a powerful decision-making process that emphasizes, inclusion, cooperation, and compromise.  Valuing the input of everyone leads to more creative, durable solutions while also increasing group cohesion and individual commitment.  When we feel we have been listened to and understood we are more committed to the decision being made. As we work with those who do have different perspectives, building consensus is a valuable tool to navigate these differences and enhance positive interactions. 


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