May-Britt Kollenhof-Bruning, Master of Dispute Resolution is a professional mediator, trainer and cofounder of Juripax, Netherlands. Juripax B.V. is an ODR software and services provider that aims to prevent miscommunication that may occur in handling complaints and – if a dispute cannot be prevented – to resolve it effectively. May-Britt comes to the field of online conflict resolution with extensive expertise in the area of conflict resolution. She completed her formal mediation training in the U.S. She has served as a mediator and arbitrator in, mainly, complex commercial disputes. As an independent contractor she has mediated hundreds of online disputes for various companies, including eBay.
Katalien Bollen is a PhD candidate in Organizational psychology at the University of Leuven, Belgium. At this institute she obtained an MA in Organizational, Work and Personnel Psychology. The subject of her doctoral thesis is “Mediation in hierarchical labor conflicts”, in which she focuses on the role of power and emotions during mediation and the use of computer-based technology while mediating. Katalien is a trained mediator and is currently involved in the courses “Group Dynamics” and “Mediation in organizations."
Bryan Hanson is the Assistant Director of the Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Creighton University. As a practitioner in dispute resolution, Bryan draws on his experiences and education to assess the existent dynamics, engage the relevant parties in dialogue, reframe the negative to the appreciative, and bring a sense of calm to the room to assist in the facilitation of group dialogue and resolution of interpersonal conflicts. He has a B.S. from Minnesota State University – Mankato in Speech Communications, and an M.A. from John F. Kennedy University in Organizational Psychology with a graduate certificate in Conflict Management. Prior to joining the Werner Institute, Bryan was a university administrator in the San Francisco Bay Area where he also devoted substantial time to work as a mediator, facilitator and trainer in conflict resolution. Bryan also currently serves the Creighton University community as a member of the distance education review committee.
To start the discussion off, let’s relate to the following question:
People often assume that online communication is often much more hostile than face-to-face communication. Between conflicted parties, online communication may give rise to the expression, or attribution, of more negative emotions. What is your opinion about this?
Actually, I find that online communication tends to be more measured than face to face interaction. In labor-management relations in the U.S., parties are often taught to be confrontive or combative in their opening sessions. We have found that sharing info online before f2f meetings and using online tools to brainstorm can have a moderating effect.
This topic reminds me of the Online Conflict Management Coach that the Princeton University Ombuds offers to folks involved in workplace disputes. The flash-based tutorial explains some key concepts about conflict (comparing it to fire - both potentially dangerous and a key resource in life) and then walks the viewer through a series of questions about a current conflict you may be involved in. Based on your responses, a recommendation of a strategy is provided, along with some tips on how that strategy might be carried out effectively. The viewer is introduced to the various conflict management styles and the potential pros and cons of each.