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Why a Mediator Helps Leaders Build Happier Workforces

Uncategorized Aug 16, 2021

I posted on LinkedIn recently about how someone suggested I completely rebrand myself and my business if I'm going to do this "Happier Workforces" thing. 

In a way, it’s really very simple: I am trained in mediation, and happy to provide that service - and I also realize many clients would prefer to never have to hire a mediator - so, we work together to build the culture that emphasizes and embraces trust and happiness. Perhaps working myself out of a job, yes - but I’m cynical enough to believe that there will always be at least a small need for mediators! 

I have realized in the past that my services don't always seem to go together, at first glance, for a lot of people.

I've ignored business and sales coaches who tell new business owners and consultants to "niche down" and get super specific about what they do and who they serve. If you're talking to everyone, they say, you’re talking to no one - because no one hears you speaking to them.

(This just reminds me that communication is a multi-factor thing - there’s what you say, what you intend to express, and what people hear - if they’re even listening to understand, vs. listening to respond or persuade. That's why I train on active listening!)

I was originally motivated to establish my own business because I became a mediator. After my classroom training and while going through the certification process here in Virginia, I decided to open a business that would help people resolve conflict and make better decisions at work. Originally, it was going to be all about mediation and facilitation - after all, I had years of experience facilitating groups of people to make decisions - I ran board meetings, I trained people of all ages, I emcee’d events, I knew how to focus on the process of engaging people during meetings.

(Of course, like most people who have ever set foot in an office, I have also spent countless hours in terrible meetings observing exactly what not to do, too. Rather than rehash the bad stuff, we have a series on good meetings: going virtualconflict potential, purpose, timing, and welcoming people in.) 

After I opened my business, I studied more about happiness and being human at work. I earned my certification in the EQ-i2.0 assessment, the only emotional intelligence assessment to also measure stress management and decision-making skills. I learned more about employee engagement and best practices in managing people, including from an HR perspective where compliance is of the utmost importance. 

I bring all of this to the table when I mediate workplace conflicts or facilitate meetings, because we always bring our whole selves. Yet during these services:

  • I am limiting my interactions.
  • I never advise during a mediation.
    • I’m not an evaluative mediator, I lead people through brainstorming to decide their own best path forward.
  • As a facilitator, while I may make gentle suggestions, I do not provide strong advice or consultations.
    • The knowledge is in the room, yes, but my knowledge is focused on my process-oriented role as a facilitator.
  • On the flip side, there are my trainings - where it’s all about me teaching, and sometimes there isn’t enough time to delve into the issues that people ask about, or, people are inhibited from asking the questions that would really make a difference in their learning - or their work culture - because of the fear of stepping out of line or drawing unwanted attention to themselves.

Ever since I earned my Professional Certificate in the Science of Happiness at Work, I have had a dream of consulting with clients about how to truly build a happier workforce - no matter whether it’s in an office, all remote, or hybrid; or even a retail or restaurant context. The Happier Workforce Cohort is my answer. 

Still, you ask, what does the cohort have to do with mediation?

It’s all about how we interact with, and value, each other. In happier work cultures, disagreements tend to be seen as just that - or as opportunities to get creative - as opposed to conflicts where people are pitted against each other, or disputes that fester and perpetuate distrust. 

No group of people is ever going to be uniformly, constantly happy. No work culture ever has to be uniformly, constantly toxic. I can guide you to the happy(er) middle ground, where people can authentically share their feelings, are productive and engaged, and policies are written and communicated in ways that support people rather than focus on disciplinary actions or verification needs.


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