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Teams In Trouble # 8: Walls and Bridges - How To Facilitate a Mediation Between Two Adversarial and Entrenched Team Members

Bridgeout “Things go wrong when people build walls instead of bridges.”

Joe and Martha don’t get along.  It’s been getting worse and worse.  It’s gotten to the point where other team members don’t want to be around them.

Joe and Martha are members of a Business Process Improvement Team.  Joe complains that Martha isn’t supporting his ideas for improving the data entry process.  Martha gets upset when Joe suggests solutions that are unrealistic (even “stupid”). 

Initially it didn’t seem like a serious problem but team members are beginning to complain that in the meetings both Joe and Martha are throwing off snide remarks behind each other’s back.  And now it’s graduated to another level - - cliques are forming, one that backs Joe and the other backs Martha. 

The team leader met with Joe and suggested that he and Martha sit down to resolve the problem.  Joe attempted this but the conversation deteriorated in to a shouting match with Martha leaving the room very upset.

The team leader is at wits end.  He needs your help.  Your job is to meet with Joe and Martha and re-engage them.  They are valuable team members and you’ve got to help them get past their differences.

What will you do? 

Bridgingthegap4 On Thursday February 23, 2006 Michael Goldman of FacilitationFirst.com and I led a free TeleSeminar where we provided our solutions to work with these two people.  Michael shared  a proven 5-step Mediation Model and I shared a wonderful puzzle that creates an "opening" for mediation (picture of the puzzle to the left).

Listen to the 60 minute TeleSeminar now for free (limited time offer).  Click the link below to download the mp3 file. 

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Download directions to the team building game Tom shared during the TeleSeminar for free (limited time offer). 

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You will find the mediation model process notes for free at Michael Goldman's website

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Mark Sturgell

Excellent teleconference today. I have to miss most of these and now I really regret it. You and Michael make a great team. I love the simplicity of your activity and the effectiveness with Michael's 5-step mediation process. Thank YOU!


Hi Tom,

Great class today! I learn so much from you. Your activity provides a wonderful metaphor for moving disputants away from their postitions to a place where mutual interests can be "nailed down."

Thank you for all that you do.

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