Separate Hearings

German managers are trained to hold separate hearings with the conflict parties. The initial goal is to establish the root cause of the problem and to guage the intensity of the conflict. The German approach avoids a hearing involving both parties. Student mediators in German schools are taught the same method.

A hearing with both conflict parties present almost always leads to an escalation of tension. Emotions run high. Accusations and counter-accusations are made, often without any basis in fact. The mediator can quickly lose control of the situation.

That kind of a hearing only giesst Öl ins Feuer, literally pours oil into the fire; provoke another person; to push a difference of opinions into an open conflict.

The German term Herrschaftswissen, roughly translated as domination or control via better information, in the sense of knowledge is power, has a negative connotation. It signifies power of one over another based on the former‘s access to critical information.

German mediators strive to be better informed of all the details concerning a conflict than the conflict parties themselves. This not only prevents manipulation, it is the basis for resolving the problem.