Can narrative therapy be the conflict management approach you have been looking for?

Workplace conflict? Have you tried narrative therapy?

Mediation is an excellent way to resolve conflicts in the workplace. Developing patient and effective conflict management skills is essential to becoming a business manager and leader.

Problems in ongoing employment relationships (that is, employment that has not been terminated) is a real problem for a fully-functioning workplace.

According to a survey, 46 per cent of people will begin searching for a new job if they are caught in a workplace relationship problem.

According to the 2012 R U OK? Australian Workplace Relationships Survey, 46 per cent of people will begin searching for a new job if they felt that they were caught in a workplace relationship problem. A further 48 per cent of respondents would take time off work if they perceived they are in a workplace relationship issue.

With the high cost of employee turnover and absenteeism, workplace conflicts are more than an inconvenience, they can often cause both the employee and employer money-loss and emotional stress.

What can be done?

The survey noted that while managers and business leaders were able to build rapport with employees, they lacked the advanced communications and conflict management skills required to have meaningful, extended and uninterrupted conversations.

There are a range of mediation solutions both internal and external available to employers. Narrative therapy is one approach that has been a major success, yet remains relatively unknown.

This is a respectful and non-critical approach to mediation that encourages people to be the experts in their own lives. Similar to techniques taught at modern management and leadership training courses, the aim is to empower and responsibilise employees.

According to an extract from Alice Morgan’s What is Narrative Therapy?, posted by the Dulwich Centre, narrative therapy is underlined by two key principles: expanding conversations and collaboration.

Could narrative therapy help your employees?Could narrative therapy help your employees?

Opening up conversations

This approach believes that there is no right method to mediation, rather there are possibilities.

The author uses the analogy of a road, a cross-road to be more precise. The conversation has many paths, tracks or intersections and it is up to the participants to decide which path is best.

Shared language, a key feature of many approaches to mediation, is less important as the shared meanings that may develop.

Cooperation and participation 

Narrative conversations are always collaborative. People who consult with the mediator are there to map the direction of the conversational journey, while the mediator is there to understand how the conversation is proceeding and generate new pathways.

In effect, the narrative conversations are directed by the shared interests of those involved.

Although this might seem simple, developing conversational skills requires practice and training.

As your employees’ wellbeing are too important to endanger, it is important you seek conflict management skills training from an experienced course provider.


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