Daily Uses of Conflict-Resolution Skills: A Study of Experienced Volunteer Community Mediators

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Daily Uses of Conflict-Resolution Skills: A Study of Experienced Volunteer Community Mediators

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This qualitative, descriptive study contributes to an in-depth understanding of the informal use of conflict-resolution skills by experienced volunteer community mediators (EVCMs). Seven experienced volunteers trained in community mediation and restorative processes participated in semi-structured interviews in which they described and reflected on how they approached conflict situations in their daily lives, the domains in which they used their skills, and how they employed their skills informally. For the first time, a Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) framework was used to explore how EVCMs use their knowledge, experience, and judgment to decide whether and how to approach conflict situations. A Critical Decision Method (CDM) questioning protocol was incorporated into semi-structured Conceptual Interviews (CIs), in which EVCMs were asked to describe multiple aspects of a conflict situation and to reflect on whether and how they decided to approach it. Throughout, EVCMs' language was analyzed and used to describe their lived experience around their daily use of conflict-resolution skills. All study participants provided examples of the informal use of their conflict-resolution skills in their daily lives, in the context of their families, their workplaces, and their communities. The results of the study found that EVCMs use these skills in three distinct ways: intervention in conflict situations, conflict prevention, and management of enduring conflict. This study provided beginning evidence that there is indeed a spillover effect, or evidence of a “peace virus,” in that there are positive effects from individuals’ providing mediation services flexibly and informally to friends, colleagues, or others to whom the mediator is known.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2019. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Jean King. 1 computer file (PDF); 164 pages.

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Zimmer, Jeanne. (2019). Daily Uses of Conflict-Resolution Skills: A Study of Experienced Volunteer Community Mediators. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/211828.

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