Conflict surrounds us on many levels. The interdisciplinary field of Conflict Resolution continues to evolve and offers a variety of options, designed to manage and resolve conflict. Specifically, mediation, in the United States and beyond, is increasingly recognised as being an efficient and effective tool, saving time and money. Many organisations, agencies and court systems around the world embrace the process.
Where there is an interpersonal and interdependent relationship involved, as there often exists in the workplace, mediation is effective in convening the stakeholders for collaborative discussion. Mediators assist the parties’ focus on the issues so they may consider together, how best to resolve the conflict, and addresses underlying concerns. Discussion may include the assertion of rights, but the focus is on the parties’ interests and needs. The basic principles of mediation ensure that parties’ voluntarily participate, exercise self determination, have the authority to bind and discussions are informal and confidential. The mediation process allows space for the parties to be emotionally open, preserve their dignity and offers a place to rebuild trust.
A mediator’s perspective about the mediation process will be shared along with lessons learned about how basic mediation skills are essential for everyone in the workplace environment and beyond. Listening skills and the idea of generating options are valuable in any conflict laden situation.
Linda Toyo Obayashi
Linda Toyo Obayashi, attorney mediator, is currently the Senior Mediation Officer, The World Bank Group, Internal Justice System. She received degrees from the International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan and Rutgers School of Law, Newark, New Jersey. Ms Obayashi’s experience as a mediator includes cases involving employment, commercial and domestic matters. She transitioned from a legal practice to the field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), recognising that collaborative practices is an effective alternative to litigation. This alternative has been increasingly embraced internationally. Ms Obayashi has mediated well over 1000 cases for state and federal courts and agencies. A few of the rosters she has served on include: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, United States Congress-Office of Compliance, Federal Shared Neutrals Program and she has provided training to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of the Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Department of Agriculture. Ms Obayashi’s community involvement includes the American Bar Association, Section of Dispute Resolution, council and the Maryland Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution, past president. She was a founding member of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia and was recognised as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women.
Linda Toyo Obayashi was a Keynote Speaker at The North American Conference on the Social Sciences 2014 (NACSS2014).