Scott Dutton, who is currently functioning as the director of mediation and conflict resolution agency “Fighting Fair”, is a well know name across all sectors of the industry in Australia for his trainings and workshops on conflict intelligence, mediation and emotional intelligence.
Innovative and insightful, could well be the middle names Scott, who has nearly 15 years of experience in mediation and conflict resolution. But what he brought into the discussion is possibly the most persisting challenges we face in the mining sphere- dealing with conflict. I say that this is the most persisting challenge because how we deal with conflict for the most part dictates the culture we have within our organisations. Scott says that confrontation is merely a style of dealing with a conflict situation. He also mentions how people tend to associate a negative connotation to the word “conflict”. He questions this quite universal notion to conflict saying that it really is an opportunity to forge better relations. Scott says that conflict is more like neutral ground and our reactions to it makes it constructive or destructive. He also introduces us to four characters he uses in conflict intelligence training sessions, namely, the Shark, the turtle, the teddy and the owl. The shark being the aggressive way of dealing with conflict and having a head to win rather than to solve anything, while turtle is simply hiding away from the issue. Teddy is, true to its name, trying to keep the others happy, which is quite self-destructive and finally the Owl, perhaps the most mature way to deal things in conflict, being thoughtful and mindful of the entire context to approach the conflict situation.
When confronted with a difference between a contractor and client, a real time scenario in the mining industry, he warned against the stale mate situation that tends to manifest as both parties want to win the argument at hand. He suggests an easy method to approach such problems. One has to be open minded and try to not to think about everything as a know-it-all, which creates an opening to discussion which will accommodate other’s perception of the problem. Furthermore he says being a know-it-all creates many baseless assumptions – which further increases the rift between parties. Scott adds that this is especially helpful for people in managerial roles not jumping to conclusions, but rather, being approachable and understanding. Interestingly he mentions a famous “old lady and young lady optical illusion” (you can Google that) which reminds people that all this is just our perception. Beyond the old and young ladies, the picture may also reveal to you three different animals including an echidna. Take a look! This understanding of different perspectives itself will turn any conflict into a situation of opportunity for both parties. By taking in all the perspectives into account we get the whole context rather than just our own skewed opinion on the situation.
On a lighter note, if we have got to discuss the need for a pay-rise with our boss, Scott has some tips for this extremely awkward discussion. He suggests that we focus on how we might deserve a pay-rise and also share an insight on what that adds on as value to the firm’s interest, in terms of loyalty, stress reduction, employee satisfaction and productivity. It was an absolute pleasure talking with Scott – I didn’t have to look at my notes. It was that easy to talk to him and I’d say that is why he is so good at mediating! He can get parties in conflict to talk and collaborate.