The ARIA Conductor

Facilitated ARIA – Conductor

This is the most complex level of ARIA, requiring the highest comfort and experience level. If you find yourself be a third party in a conflict situation, you can aid the situation in several ways, depending on your prior mediation or facilitation training and skills and your ARIA mastery. Below are several options, presented from lowest intervention and risk to highest intervention and risk.

Step 1 for all intervention levels is analyzing the conflict to determine its primary level for each party, Resource, Objective, or Identity. The deeper the conflict, the more skill required to helpfully resolve it. Simply being able to effectively analyze a conflict when you see it is a substantial first step toward effective conflict engagement. It allows you to gain and present a rational perspective, and will ensure that escalation does not occur or that inappropriate or untimely interventions are not attempted.

Option 1 – Active Listening – The safest intervention for beginning to engage parties more actively, particularly if you are not very comfortable with or have had little experience in conflict resolution, is simply having individual meetings with each of the conflicting parties separately and listening empathetically to their grievances, asking the Resonance question- “Why is this so important to you?” Do not offer or promise resolution, but rather assure each side of a safe, non-judgmental and confidential forum for talking about their conflict. Simply giving aggrieved parties a supportive environment and outlet for expressing their antagonism can serve a very constructive, even transforming, function. You will probably find that the intensity of conflict can begin to dissipate when people feel heard.

Option 2 – Shuttle/Liaison – The next level of intervention is serving as a liaison, doing a sort of diplomatic “shuttle” between the two parties in conflict. You as third party listen and help each party frame a message that the other side will be able to listen and respond to constructively. In short, you seek to help each side articulate their grievances and needs in a way that the other side can recognize and understand. This sometimes leads to a direct encounter between the parties (the next level of intervention), but may simply be a way of beginning to frame and understand the conflict more rationally and completely. Remember, when people are in conflict, particularly at the Identity level, they often need a way to step back and calmly analyze what is happening in order to find constructive ways of expressing their concerns. Even if indirectly, you can aid in this process. One warning for this method is not to “triangulate” – to position yourself between the parties in a way that appears partial to one side or the other, or that appears to pit one side against the other. If you cannot appear objective and helpful to both sides – which does not necessarily mean you have no bias, just that you can successfully discipline it – it is best to try another method or choose someone else to act as a shuttle/liaison

Option 3 – Encounter/Facilitate – The next level of intervention is to serve as a facilitator and bring the parties together to facilitate the ARIA process. This allows the parties to surface their conflict face-to-face, and work through it completely. For an Identity-based conflict, this may entail a full Antagonism discussion, or a more detached and analytic method of having each party list their concerns in one another’s presence and share their lists. This leads to the remaining phases of the process, from Resonance through Invention and Action. Before facilitating the ARIA process, however, commit yourself to creating the appropriate environment, and to seeing the process through. Never begin an ARIA intervention if you do not have the conditions available, including time and prior commitment from participants to stay the course even if things get rough (third parties should take the hippocratic oath like doctors: “first, do no harm”).

Option 4 – Seek Support – The final level of intervention is calling for someone from the outside to assist you and/or the parties in working through their conflict. This could be someone internal such as a Human Resource specialist, or someone external from a mediation center or consulting firm. This final step should in no way be seen as a failure. Just as diagnosing a conflict accurately is a great step toward ARIA mastery, knowing when and whom to ask for help also demonstrates your management ability and your mastery of ARIA.

If you would like to talk us regarding facilitation or mediation, please contact us.