Using the Conflict Styles Model in Mediation

This model is one that I often share with clients when I am mediating. I find it helpful to talk through with clients to help them to identify the approach (or approaches) they are taking to the current conflict.

How to use the Conflict Styles Model in Mediation

I print up the model and have it in my mediators kit or draw it on one of the blank pieces of paper I use during mediation to write my notes on.

During the pre-mediation I talk through the model with the client explaining that in mediation we are seeking ideally to reach a point where the parties can reach a collaborative agreement.

By that I mean an agreement where both of them get what they need in terms of their working relationship and in solving the problems that have led to the dispute or conflict they are experiencing.


What conflict style are you using?

Clients generally find it quite easy to identify the conflict style that they are using.  The original developers of the model used assertiveness and cooperative as the two dimensions of the model but sometimes people misunderstand the meaning of those words. 

I find that using the term focus (what are you paying attention to) and needs is helpful with all clients regardless of their educational background.

Often people want to think that they are being cooperative but if they can’t tell me what the other person wants or needs then they are not!

It might mean that they have not asked or that the other person doesn’t feel that it is safe to tell them.

Once we have looked at the style that they are using at the moment in the current conflict I work with them to prepare for the mediation based on that.

How to prepare clients for mediation

As a mediator the more a client is prepared for mediation the more likely it is that the process will flow smoothly and the clients will be able to negotiate a collaborative agreement.

In workplace mediation the current trend seems to be pre-mediation meeting in the morning and mediation session in the afternoon. That is not my preferred approach as it doesn’t give the clients much time to reflect on the discussion during the pre-mediation session or to consult with their advisors. I do contract work for workplace mediation so I don’t control that aspect of the process.

In family law mediations I always leave time between pre-mediation to give clients time to get legal advice and discuss with family members.

My objective is that they understand their options and the cost of alternatives to reaching an agreement. That way they are realistic about what they want and need and are able to better hear and understand what the other person wants and needs.

What people want

I find that what people ask for is generally pretty reasonable.

In terms of their interpersonal relationship they want to be treated with respect. That means not being spoken to sarcastically or in a way that makes them feel bad. It means paying attention to their needs and wishes and not imposing your values on them and being willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and not make negative assumptions without asking them for clarification.

Easy things to do when you are not in conflict but quite hard if you are feeling negatively about someone.

By using the Conflict Styles model and other models we can have a conversation about these types of things without blame or recriminations.

It is a normal thing to either accommodate or avoid if there is a power imbalance but not being willing to express or ask for what you need is self-defeating behaviour and has no place in the mediation room. If the power imbalance is so great that expressing what you need form the other party could result in harm mediation should not occur and another resolution process should be used.

Likewise a person who has a lot of power in the relationship either due to their role in the organisation or their personal power may feel that they can make the other person do what they want. Sometimes people have been taught this style of positional bargaining and don’t even think about the negative downside of forcing an agreement on someone else. With a bit of education about the benefits of collaboration  most people are willing to at least listen to what the other person wants and needs.

I find that this sets the foundation for a productive mediation process.

Are you interested in becoming a professional mediator?

Mediation Institute is a recognised mediator accreditation body. We offer a flexible and accessible online course for NMAS Mediator Accreditation and also the CHC81115 – Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution for those interested in Family Law Mediation.

What models do you use in your mediation?

If you are already a professional mediator I’d be very happy to host a blog post from you on the Mediation Institute Website about any models or diagrams that you use in mediation with clients. Send me an email or call to discuss.


How to book in for Mediation Institute Events

Confused about how to locate and book in for Mediation Institute professional development events?

Students and Members. Don’t miss out on valuable, free professional development opportunities for mediators and family dispute resolution practitioners.

Watch the video to find out more about the events calendar and booking in for events through Eventbrite.


Do you want to present a webinar for our members?

Presenting a webinar for Mediation Institute Members is a great way to get professional development credits, share your knowledge and build your presentation skills in a safe and supportive environment.

For each one hour of presentation you get three hours of professional development credits to allow for the preparation process.

If you have a subject close to your heart related to dispute resolution get in touch with your proposal for a presentation.

Presentation Proposal

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Step by Step – how to log into a Mediation Institute Course

Where to go to log in

Mediation Institute hosts our online learning courses on a website called You might want to bookmark this address.

Step One: Sign up to Canvas

  1. If you are an existing student you will already have a log in for Canvas so instead of clicking the I’m a student button click on the Login link at the top right of the screen. Step One - Sign up to Canvas

  2. Put in the:

    1. Join Code that you will have received in an email from Mediation Institute. If you can’t find your join code email to request it again.

    2. Your full name in the full name box

    3. Your email address in the Username box

    4. Your preferred password (make sure you can remember it)

    5. You have to agree with the privacy and terms of use to proceed.

    6. Click Start Learning to … start learning.

Step Two - Student Sign Up

3. That will take you to the course that you have enrolled in. Here is an example from the Mediation Institute NMAS Mediator Training course.

NMAS Training

Hint: The home page gives you an overview. The modules link has the course laid out in sequence. If it was a book the Modules are the Chapters and each chapter contains a number of pages. You can page through the course in sequence and you will come to the revision and discussion tasks at the appropriate time. 


What can go wrong?

Known issues students may encounter

Email already in use

If you get an Email already in use message it means that you have already got a log in for the Learning Management System.

What to do

  1. Click on the Login Dropdown Login dropdown

  2. Use the same email address to login – try to remember the password you would have used.

  3. If you got it right you’ll be in the course.  If not you’ll get an invalid username or password error.

Invalid Username or Password

If you get an Invalid Username or Password message it means that your password is wrong as long as you have used the email address you used to log in to Canvas before.

What to do

  1. Click on the Forgot Password link 

  2. The password reset box will pop up. Put in the same email address you have been trying to log in with and hit Request Password. It will email the password to you.

Hint: Automated emails often go to junk mail or where ever else mail programs decide to hide them so have a look in all the usual places.

If you can’t find the automatic email that lets you reset your password try the Need a Canvas Account link with the email address you believe you have an account for.

Copy and paste it in the Need a Canvas Account link to see if you get the already used email address error message.

Reset Password Link

Zoom Role Plays

Zoom Role Plays

Mediation Institute uses a tool called Zoom for our role plays and webinars.

Download Zoom

The best way to use Zoom is to download the free zoom application to your computer. Once you have done that simply locate the App on your computer desk top, click to open and join or start a meeting.

If you are joining a role play from a borrowed or work computer and don’t want to download the app you can join a role play by going to (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and click on the JOIN A MEETING link on the home page.

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It will take you to a page that has a Join a Meeting box to put in the meeting ID. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

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Meeting IDs of our trainers

– Joanne Law 9282726252

– Ken Speakman 555 222 2555

– Peter Johnston 344 044 2340 

If you don’t know who the mentor is for the event you want to participate in click on the Role Play Scheduler Link to find out. The link is located on the links menu in your course. 

Go to  to log in to your course with your email and password. If you are having difficulty logging in Contact Us.  

How to set up your free Zoom Account.

Click on the SIGN UP, IT’S FREE link on the (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. home page and enter your preferred email address to set up a free account.

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How to downloan Zoom and the Outlook Plugin

Go to the Download Centre to Download Zoom (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

You may find some or all of the following plugins helpful

– Zoom Client for Meetings

– Zoom Plugin for Microsoft Outlook

– Zoom Extension for Browsers 

– Zoom Client Plugin for Sharing iPhone / iPad

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