Mediating Disagreements

Here at ACCORD, we offer our community members a unique opportunity to communicate in a different way through our use of alternative dispute resolution or ADR services. These can help bridge the gap between two or more people who are having a dispute. Our center offers many services to assist in a variety of situations.

So what causes a dispute in the first place? According to a Mediator with over twenty five years of experience, it is difficult for individuals to disagree in a constructive manner, often causing minor disagreements to develop into deeper conflicts.  These deeper conflicts can develop into serious misunderstandings and over time, a mere difference of opinion becomes a much larger issue.

Mediation and other ADR services can help individuals, family members, and even organizations to move forward during times of anger, conflict, and uncomfortable disagreements. Successful mediation takes place when communication barriers are challenged and common ground can be identified. This allows for disputants to then work on developing solutions in a more peaceful way.

Our mediators are trained to identify emotions, topics, ideas, common interests, concerns and the needs of those in dispute in order to allow participants the opportunity to overcome differences through similarities. We must allow people to reconnect and move toward a mutually endurable solution that all parties can live with and with great hope, thrive from. We must encourage an atmosphere of empathy and understanding to help the divided to unite.

We encourage a respectful approach to seeking mutuality and solving fundamental disagreements that promote peace. This may not be possible in all instances, but our mediators work diligently to overcome communication roadblocks that at the very least, may help parties to better tolerate existing differences.

Mediation is a self-driven, and self-determined process, allowing the parties to communicate in their own language, at their own pace, and on their terms.  From that standpoint, the possibilities are limitless.  Mediators work to open the doors for communication, and from there we may see the potential to develop an agreement that will work for that particular family, individual, or organization.

As mediators, we must be ever present to listen fully, without judgement, and try to understand our client’s point of view and encourage them to do the same. Our role is to help people to disagree more fully and more respectfully. People come to us because they are stuck. They may feel trapped, cornered, or confined. Through mediation and other ADR services, we can help create a space that allows for better understanding to take place.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mediation and Improv

ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc., is excited for the months to come as we partner with our mediators to generate new  and creative ways to develop the most sustainable volunteer and organizational culture. We are dedicated to serving our community members in Broome and Tioga Counties with the best alternative dispute resolution services, training, and advocacy. Our mission is to bring peaceful alternatives to conflict through our programming,  but we cannot do it without help from our talented mediator pool.

We are moving to a new way of thinking about mediation and the ways in which we enhance our “mediator toolboxes” to benefit not only ourselves as mediators, but most importantly, to benefit the clients we serve each and every day. ACCORD is always seeking to help our mediators build on current skill sets that align with the New York State Standards of Conduct for Mediators and use the most powerful ways to help others. Interestingly enough, there is a connection between mediation and improvisational techniques. Those of us at ACCORD would love to move toward taking a “Yes, and” approach and learn more about mediation and improv.

Keeping a “Yes, and” mindset will allow for mediators to become more creative and innovative especially while in a mediation session where the power of collaboration truly comes to life. When you walk into a mediation session with a “No” or “Yes, but” mindset, it can have a negative impact on the quality of the session. Walking into a mediation, mediators, must be calm and centered, have a positive attitude, and be willing to explore potential options to help individuals, families, or organizations to better communicate. With that said, it is necessary to have an open mind.

By taking the “Yes, and” approach, not only with our verbals but also our non-verbals, we can make parties feel accepted, create a safer space for them to open up and share their needs and feelings, and also increase their willingness to engage in the process of brainstorming in order to develop endurable solutions to the issue(s) at hand. This idea is also useful when working with a co-mediator. One of the challenges, we may face, is working with a new co-mediator each session. Nevertheless, we must work together to best demonstrate our unity and instill confidence within the parties regarding the overall mediation process.

For our March continuing education session, we will focus on mediation successes and challenges as well as some mediation and improv scenarios. For more information, feel free to contact Tasha Taylor, ADR Coordinator, at tashat@accordny.com.

 

 

ACCORD’s Conflict Resolutions for 2019

To welcome in the new year, here at ACCORD, we will strive for the following conflict resolutions:

1. Continue the promotion of peaceful alternatives to conflict through mediation and other dispute resolution services, training, and advocacy.

Here at ACCORD, we strive to help individuals, families, and organizations come to sustainable solutions to issues involving communication. It is imperative that we as a community come together to support one another in our efforts to create a positive approach to handling conflict. As the sole Community Dispute Resolution Center in Broome and Tioga Counties, we can help community members improve various areas of contention whether with an individual or interpersonal conflict, a family conflict, or a conflict in the workplace. Our programs include:

  • Assisted Senior Communication
  • Conflict Coaching
  • Community Mediation
  • Community Training
  • Divorce Mediation
  • Division of Property Arbitration/Mediation
  • Family Mediation
    • Custody
    • Visitation
    • Child Support
    • Parent/Teen
  • Group Facilitation
  • Lemon Law Arbitration
  • Restorative Practices
  • Small Claims Mediation
  • Special Education & Early Intervention
  • VESID (Vocational & Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities)

2. Empower our clients to develop the tools needed for more constructive conflict conversations in order to mitigate disputes of any topic.

Effective communication and conflict resolution skills are priceless tools for any individual, family, or organization. Through our above programs, training, and advocacy, those within our communities may become more effective communicators. An individual can book a session with a trained Conflict Coach who can help guide them through the process of expressing the conflict, understanding their options, and mapping out a plan to address the problem. A family unit can take the opportunity to meet with our trained mediators to develop a parenting plan that is best for their needs, rather than a judge setting the plan for them. And a work or school group may choose to experience a restorative dialogue circle, increasing the opportunity for all participants to be heard, validated, and understood. With that being said, we will strive to help others resolve conflict in what we hope is the most constructive pathway, guided by the individual for the greatest level of self-determination.

Some useful tips for successful conflict management include:

  • Accept that conflict will occur
  • Identify the best time to talk in a safe space
  • Clarify individual perceptions, emotions, and needs
  • Practice active and empathetic listening
  • Take a time-out from the conversation, if needed
  • Generate options to develop a win-win outcome

3. To be more present and mindful with friends, family, and colleagues.

Listening is an essential component of communication. In the new year, we will strive to become better listeners. We can all improve our ability to effectively listen by focusing on the skills necessary to be a strong active listener. Through active listening, one should pay close attention to the individual speaking, listen without forming judgement or thinking of how the topic relates personally to oneself; reflect back the topics being mentioned, and then clarify, summarize, and share. If you can hone and apply these six strategies, you will become a better listener and more effective communicator.

For more information about ACCORD, please visit accordny.com.

 

 

It’s Not About the Nail

It’s Not About the Nail

Do you consider yourself a “fixer,” or a problem solver?  If so, then often comes the desire to always find a solution.  When simply solution-oriented, we may have a tendency to forget some key components within the communication process.  Some of these steps are necessary for ACCORD’s mediation clients, particularly on their path to dispute resolution.  We at ACCORD have found it is imperative to identify the topics, listen to others, and validate participant’s emotions.

ACCORD’s mediators are trained to go beyond solution-oriented listening.  Our mediators help individuals identify the various levels of their current dispute, listen with an open heart and mind, and validate the strong feelings associated with the client’s conflict.  Our mediators tackle a wide variety of topics, including disputes within a family unit, small claims or community matters, an impending divorce, and more.  ACCORD’s mediators know that “it is not always about the nail,” but rather, allowing participants to be heard and their feelings to be validated that allows for the most successful mediation sessions.

According to the New York State Unified Court System standards and ACCORD’s best practices, an imperative part of the mediation process is to allow our participants an opportunity to discover their own solutions on their path of self-determination.  At times, it may be easier for mediators to identify a fix and guide a session towards that solution, bypassing the oftentimes emotionally charged pieces of the conversations.  To do so may ultimately impede party self-determination and may rob clients of the validation the mediation process produces.

With that being said, we should all take this funny little clip to remind ourselves of the importance of allowing parties the time to fully process the emotions surrounding their conflict.   While mediators are not direct service providers or therapists, giving deference to our participants to process their disputes, receive reflections that validate the emotions and needs they express, and allowing them to mitigate the disputes on their own terms using our mediator’s highly developed skill sets, allows for the greatest opportunity for them to feel heard and understood.

Kindly view our transformative toolkit for a list of resources we have been equipped with in our basic training and continuing education sessions.  ACCORD appreciates any feedback regarding how we may work together to foster the best environment and fully support our mediators in order to provide the highest quality mediation sessions possible. We thank you for your continued efforts to provide a more peaceful community!

The Benefits of Divorce Mediation

ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc., has been servicing the communities we live in to help in many ways. One of which is to help separating or divorcing couples navigate one of the most challenging situations. Those who are facing an impending divorce often think primarily about litigation. However, ACCORD can help to navigate this process in a less contentious and more cost-effective way. Divorce mediation can be a less formal way to ease anxieties as we provide a calming environment to best assist clients in meeting their needs.

Our divorce program intake specialist takes great care in identifying suitable cases. After taking the time to meet with clients individually and explain the process thoroughly, individuals can decide if mediation is the appropriate method for their case. Some divorce cases may not be suitable for mediation. It is important to note that in order for mediation to be effective for a divorce, it is important that both parties are willing and able to express needs, wants, and ideas related to child custody, pensions, financial distributions, and more.

Based on your needs, our intake specialist will pair you with the right mediator. It is very important to understand the role of the divorce mediator. They are not a judge and will not make any decisions. His or her goal is to assist both parties in reaching an agreement that is mutually acceptable and endurable for their situation. Unlike litigation, mediators can help craft a unique agreement that is created based on the client’s particular circumstances and their personal needs.

The mediator works diligently to listen to and understand what each person wants out of the process in order to benefit all parties. It is the task of the mediator to help both parties reach a suitable conclusion that is right for that couple and their family. Mediation has even been known to positively impact children who may be involved. Since mediation takes a more peaceful approach to conflict, children will see their parents working in a cooperative manner, also leading to more joint custody arrangements being awarded through mediation.

For many of our clients, divorce mediation is the most cost-effective option. We operate on a structured fee schedule that is associated with the incomes of individuals. Mediation tends to be the less expensive alternative to litigation. As opposed to having two attorneys, you are allotted one mediator who is most concerned with both parties working together to develop the best solution. If you would like to learn more about our program and/or initiate a case, please contact Debbie Wahl at debbiew@accordny.com or give us a call at (607) 724-5153.

Increasing ACCORD’s Capacity

ACCORD has had an eventful fall including an increase in community outreach, restorative justice circle training, and our attendance at CAMP FINANCE to enhance our presence in the community, improve upon a new process for assisting the juvenile justice system, and learning more about successful non-profit financing for our agency. We would like to thank you for your continued support of our organization and look forward to sharing all the details during this exciting time.

We have been very fortunate to become more involved in our community in order to share our services and bring in new interns and volunteers to help us accomplish our mission, vision, and values. By attending free community outreach fairs, we have been able to present ACCORD to the members of Lockheed Martin and Binghamton University. Through strengthening our partnerships with other organizations, we present ourselves with greater opportunities. We have many individuals who have expressed interest in becoming a CASA or volunteer mediator!

We look forward to the possibilities of continuing our outreach, presenting our services, offering organizational training, and moving ACCORD forward into 2019. ACCORD is happy to continue our partnership with Binghamton University as well, in order to continue receiving amazing interns from the MSW and MPA programs. Our social work interns have a great opportunity to interact with our client base while our public administration interns can assist in strategic planning and grant writing. We currently have two BU interns with us for the duration of the year, and we are very grateful for their efforts.

In the months of September and October, ACCORD’s very own, Moira O., led a Restorative Justice training that has introduced volunteers and staff with the opportunity to learn about restorative circles to assist the youth in developing critical communication skills to improve any harms that they may have imposed on others. This training consisted of three intensive days with wonderful speakers from other agencies including the Crime Victim’s Assistance Center as well as the Broome County Re-entry Program. Our newly trained Circle Keepers include Sally D., Becky H., Bob I., Erik J., Toni N., Tom R., Patty S., and Tasha T.!

The momentum for our organization continued well into October which certainly was an exciting time with the circle training commencement and the attendance to CAMP FINANCE for our Executive Director and Board Members. The New York Council of Non-profits, Inc. hosted CAMP FINANCE to further educate and engage those in the non-profit sector in “making cents in volatile times,” in the scenic Monhonk Mountain area of New Paltz. Topics covered at this event included:

  • Nonprofit Accounting
  • Marketing, Fundraising & Communications
  • Nonprofit Accountability & Compliance
  • Nonprofit Board Governance Issues
  • Nonprofit Policy & Advocacy

We will round out the month by sending certain ACCORD staff to the New York State Dispute Resolution Association (NYSDRA) Conference October 22nd – October 24th. They will be offering many different sessions to attend to assist our local CDRC to increase our knowledge and fine tune our non-profit capacities to bring a better tomorrow for the residents of Broome and Tioga Counties. Through the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services, we look forward to serving more individuals, families, and organizations!

 

 

 

 

 

ACCORD and Raise the Age

ACCORD, A  Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc., greatly welcomes the new opportunities presented to our organization through the Raise the Age initiative and with the help of several referral sources, social agencies, and our the Unified Court System to help promote juvenile justice throughout Broome and Tioga Counties. Our staff worked diligently to obtain a grant from the Unified Court System to solidify our plans to provide enhanced juvenile justice programming through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services for those ages seven to seventeen.

Our Raise the Age program focuses on diversion and reentry needs of the youth impacted within the juvenile justice system while ensuring social justice for those individuals in need. We provide ADR services to youth that are voluntary and provide them with self-determination in the process. Their participation in varied ADR services provided through ACCORD include conflict coaching, mediation, and restorative practices as a proactive and responsive process that is as safe as possible for all involved.

By providing ADR services to youth, we will work to reduce recidivism rates and provide them with the opportunity for communicative and emotional skill development, an improved feeling of connectedness and engagement within one’s community, and have a stronger understanding of how the impact of their actions. It is with every intention to reinforce desired conflict behavior changes, help youth to imagine and understand what relationships can be like, develop and map out how to work toward and achieve their goals, and well as reduce negative behaviors and increase positive attitudes.

ACCORD is proudly collaborating with a number of other agencies to help the impending case load which will be increasing as the Raise the Age reform is less than a month away. As of October 1st, 2018, the age of criminal responsibility will increase to seventeen. The organizations which we are going to be involved with moving forward include but are not limited to:

  • The Office for Children and Families  (OCFS)
  • The Children’s Home of Wyoming Conference
  • Tioga County Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) Unit
  • Finger Lakes Parent Network (FLPN)

ACCORD is also fully engaged in monthly meetings for the Tioga County Youth Assessment Team which is comprised of representatives from Tioga Department of Probation, Department of Social Services, PINS, Mental Hygiene Services, local schools and services agencies. All come together to review open juvenile justice cases and discuss the best course of action for diversion or adjustment services. We will continue to strive to provide the highest quality services to youth in order to promote healthier and safer communities right here in our backyard.

 

 

 

 

ACCORD now offers Conflict Coaching

ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc., is now offering another Unified Court System sponsored program. Conflict Coaching is perfect for individuals experiencing conflict. A conflict coach will help a party manage conflict more effectively and develop necessary competencies to promote better conflict management skills and resolve issues.

Conflict coaching is best described as a one-on-one process that allows an individual to discuss a matter of conflict with a trained coach, develop conflict management strategies and skills, while being empowered to put together an action plan to best move forward. Much like other services provided by ACCORD, conflict coaching allows for a party to receive third party support while still remaining in control of the process.

ACCORD’s trained conflict coaches have received formal training in conflict communication and have committed themselves to listening to others while helping to apply insights and skills to one’s conflict. A party is an individual who is voluntarily seeking out assistance with the specific purpose of handling conflict more effectively.

A party can benefit from this service as it offers them an opportunity to explain his or her situation to a coach, answer carefully selected questions, which can then allow a party to see the conflict from a different perspective. The value of conflict coaching is in the receipt of strategies to move forward, while identifying and practicing skills to employ an action plan.

Conflict coaching serves as an alternative to mediation. It can help when individuals are unwilling or cannot meet face-to-face in conventional mediation. Before conflicts become a major problem, it can help an individual clarify thinking, prioritize issues, and develop alternative methods of communication before the conflict escalates.

It can be used to prepare for mediation, allowing the individual to have time to gain insight into the conflict and create better mediation skills where the individual does not fall into the same previous patterns that lead to the conflict. It can also be used after mediation such as post-divorce mediation as parties may still be trying to navigate the new relationship.

Conflict Coaching can be summarized as:

  • A one-on-one process used to develop an individuals conflict understanding, interaction strategies and/or interaction skills.
  • A trained conflict coach will walk you through the conflict and potentially create an action plan with how to move forward.
  • Conflict coaching walks an individual through another perspective of the conflict.
  • A coach helps an individual prepare for a more constructive conflict conversation.
  • A coach will help an individual develop skills for current and future conflicts.

Conflict Coaching is beneficial to:

  • Individuals dealing with change.
  • Individuals dealing with workplace disputes.
  • Individuals dealing with bullying.
  • Individuals dealing with a personal issue.
  • Individuals dealing with a current ACCORD case.

Conflict Coaching not appropriate for:

  • An individual not willing to participate.
  • An individual too distraught or angry to have a conversation.

If you or someone you know would be interested in learning more about the Conflict Coaching program or to schedule an appointment, please contact Program Coordinator, Tasha Taylor at tashat@accordny.com or (607) 724-5153 ext. 301.

Raise the Age: Juvenile Justice

ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc works to best anticipate the upcoming Raise the Age legislation that will be going into effect on October 1st, 2018. The Unified Court System is in support of a local network of Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs), and as the Center for Broome and Tioga Counties, we must develop plans to implement the Raise the Age (RTA) Legislation to best address juvenile justice matters.

At this time, we have considered how our local CDRC can assist our court system as it relates to RTA. ACCORD can have a great impact in out communities based on the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services we provide, which includes our newest Conflict Coaching service to be offered to upcoming referral sources and other clientele. ADR services can help our community in response to juvenile delinquency, placement, and/or successful re-entry.

The new RTA Legislation offers us the opportunity to examine how we can use the ADR services we provide at ACCORD to improve outcomes for youth and families, reduce the number of court appearances, improve client perception of fairness, which have proven to be very important when considering the promotion of procedural justice. New York State CDRCs are responsible for service more than 15,000 young people annually through the provision of youth-related ADR services by partnering with:

  • Local Schools
  • The Department of Social Services
  • Probation Departments
  • Police
  • Other non-profit organizations

In conjunction with these partners, CDRCs can use an array of approaches including restorative practices, mediation, training and advocacy, and conflict coaching (more specifically in school-based services, pre-PINS diversion, re-entry services, restorative justice, and conflict coaching) which can assist youth in the development of lifelong skills. Through these practices we can help youth who have committed criminal offenses to build stronger connections to their communities and decrease the rate of re-offending.

ADR services such as mediation involves a dialogue-based conflict resolution process that is gaining recognition for it’s utilization in juvenile justice matters. These services allow participants to develop a better understanding of their actions, clarification of issues, while exploring various options for a mutually acceptable resolution to conflict. Partnerships and the use of ADR have already been used as a school-based strategy, part of the Pre-PINS process, in minor criminal matters, and in support of the re-entry process.

To learn more, please contact Moira Osorio for more information at moirao@accordny.com.

Standards of Conduct for Mediators

ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc warmly welcomed Dan Kos of the Unified Court System for a Continuing Education meeting in April. A huge thank you to Dan for coming to demonstrate the Standards of Conduct for New York State Community Dispute Resolution Center Mediators. We also thank all of our Mediators, new and seasoned, who joined us in our efforts to provide the best mediation services in Broome and Tioga Counties.

From the Standards of Conduct Manual sent to each of our mediators, you will find that “The Standards are intended to serve as a general framework for the practice of mediation and aim to:

  1. Educate mediators regarding current standards of practice;
  2. Guide mediators in their practice;
  3. Promote public confidence in mediation as a dispute resolution process; and
  4. Inform the mediation parties about the process.”

Let’s examine all of the Standards in order to assure quality mediations are always taking place during each and every session. We as Mediators in New York State must abide with the following to do so:

STANDARD I: SELF-DETERMINATION

Mediators must support party self-determination in both the process and outcome. This means that parties are able to make voluntary and uncoerced decisions.

STANDARD II: IMPARTIALITY

Mediators shall conduct themselves in a manner as to avoid the appearance of partiality or prejudice, even during a caucus.

STANDARD III: CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Mediators shall avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest before, during, and after a mediation through disclosing the conflict or withdrawing from the process.

STANDARD IV: COMPETENCE

Mediators shall mediate with necessary competence to satisfy the reasonable expectations of the parties.

STANDARD V: CONFIDENTIALITY

Confidentiality is upheld in every aspect of the process. Mediators will only communicate information with co-mediator, parties, and staff.

STANDARD VI: QUALITY OF THE PROCESS

Mediators shall conduct a quality process in accordance with these Standards of Conduct and adjacent ACCORD policy.

STANDARD VII: ADVERTISING AND SOLICITATION

Mediators shall be truthful and not misleading when communicating his or her qualifications, experience, and range of available services.

STANDARD VIII: RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE MEDIATION PROFESSION

Mediators shall act in a manner that enhances the growth and quality of the mediation profession.

For more information and to read the Standards of Conduct in it’s entirety, please feel free to access the Standards of Conduct for New York State Community Dispute Resolution Center Mediators here.