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Conflict Management in the Military

Conflict Management in the Military

Tell us about your experience with conflict management in the military and workplace.



Full Transcript

I think one assumption is made about the military is because there is a hierarchy there that is hard to mediate across the power divide. The great thing about the model of the workplace, mediation model in particular is that it can be adapted so that you can breach that power divide when you got certain protocols, certain rules about how we accept referrals into mediation. How we work with people in communication, how we work with people in mediation, it’s quite possible to actually mediate across from a private soldier to a colonel for example. We do a lot of work with police services, as well, similarly where there are workplace disputes across the power divide. It’s quite feasible and quite doable to actually mediate between those quite significant power gaps.


The first bit of your question about how people’s previous position, or what they’ve learned about conflict influences how they approach conflict is quite a big deal I think. I think my particular thing, having done quite a big, quite a career initially in psychotherapy and then going into mediation. You tend to have a particular eye on things.


In particular, you wonder where it comes from. Where the patterns of behaviour come from. As mediators what we’re interested in is how people conduct themselves. What they do and what they say. As therapists we’re looking at a layer below and wondering where these patterns have come from and how they got set up. In either case what you’ve got is an habitual way of approaching conflict that people find it hard to step out of.


There may be things we’ve learned about conflict right from before we could talk. There may be things about conflict we’ve learned just recently in the last two or three years. They have a similar power in setting up an expectation in people as to how a conflict is going to go. You’ve got a particular expectation of what might happen or what might go wrong and the way you lead into that, the way that you approach the conflict. Even the first thing you say or do in relation to an adversary is strongly influenced by your previous experiences.

About the mediator

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Mike began his career researching the use of new technology in the workplace. At British Telecom’s research labs he worked on using voice control to work computers, and co-authored a book on the subject. He became interested in the use of computer speech technology for people with disabilities, especially looking at using technology to help speech-impaired people to communicate better. Communication then became something of a theme for Mike, wh... View Mediator