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Workplace Conflict Resolution Through Mediation and Arbitration

By Hon. Alan D. Scheinkman (Ret.)

Conflict in the workplace is natural and can be constructive. Through communication of different points of view and perspectives, co-workers may gain a greater degree of insight into the issues at hand and increase the options that may be available to resolve difficult issues. Healthy conflict leads to candid discussions in which co-workers may challenge themselves to think creatively and open up to learn about valuing and respecting the opinions of others.

On the other hand, it is almost inevitable, and a byproduct of the human condition, that conflict may trigger emotional reactions. Anger, resentment, and hostility may be produced even where discussions are conducted in good faith. Unhealthy conflict may be occasioned by the commission of inappropriate workplace behavior, such as undesired advances, unconsented touching, or the use of discriminatory practices in making workplace decisions. Failure to address unhealthy conflict allows the situation to fester, injuring morale and, more importantly, creating an environment in which conflict may dramatically escalate into major conflagration.

The collective bargaining agreement