Article that Focuses on Dealing With Aggression in the Mediation Process - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

Summary of:

Article that Focuses on Dealing With Aggression in the Mediation Process

Dokkum, N. (2020). Dealing With Aggression . Dealing with Aggression . Retrieved 2022, from chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html? 

Background & Theory

This article focuses around how to aid professionals in the conflict resolution field to handle aggressiveness throughout the mediation process. As we know, the mediation process can escalate quickly due to the emotions of the parties, but understanding the underlying emotions and motives of each party can ultimately enhance the relationship between the parties and aid the mediator in resolving the conflict as quickly as possible. 

Research Question(s)

  1. What are some tactics mediators can use to de-escalate conflict? 
  2. What are the key differences between aggression and anger?


Understanding Anger & Why It’s Important 

Anger is an extremely important emotion to be cognizant of. More importantly, it is crucial to uncover the real root of where the anger stems from. Anger is an important emotion that must be released; the studies show that making the parties suppress these emotions only makes their anger heighten which ultimately causes an even bigger explosion. This also causes the participants to fixate on their anger which does not allow them to think rationally. Ultimately, anger has healing properties and can lead to deep self-reflection and self-determination. 

Understanding Assertiveness Vs Aggressiveness 

Assertiveness is a method in which individuals express themselves effectively and get their point across while also respecting the other person’s perspective. Individuals that show assertiveness are categorized as good problem solvers. Someone who is argumentative is also intertwined with the ideology of someone being assertive. However, there are levels of aggressive behavior. If one is attacking self-concepts over positions this is a clear sign for the mediator to step in and de-escalate the situation. 

Dealing with Aggressive Behavior

Conflict resolution professionals should be alert and recognize early signs of aggression from parties. In their opening statement there should be a clear understanding that even though emotions run high through this process, it’s vital to try to be empathetic and open minded with the other party. Another area to focus on is asking the parties to help the mediator in formulating rules of behavior for the session. In the parties making their own rules, it is harder to deviate from them. A common technique in conflict resolution is separating the people from the problem. By focusing on the problem and not the emotions of the participants the mediator is able to make massive breakthroughs with their clients. Lastly, it is crucial for the mediator to not criticize one dispute in the presence of another. 


Overall, it is important for the mediator to be aware of their emotions as well as the parties. By setting clear rules together, separating the people from the problem, and understanding the underlying emotions, the mediation process can be productive and successful. Although aggression may creep in, it is vital to try to keep the participants calm and make them feel secure and valid within their viewpoints. 

What This Means

  • Paying attention to the emotional aspects of the parties is key to resolving the conflict
  • Anger isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, it’s an emotion that should be released (in a controlled environment) to allow parties to advance in the mediation process 
  • Mediators should always be cognizant of their emotions throughout the process, while also uncovering the deeply rooted issues within each party 

Final Takeaway

For consultants: Conflict resolution professionals should understand that anger reveals a lot of pieces to the puzzle when going through the mediation process.

For Everyone: We all must try to understand one another and gain higher self awareness by truly analyzing our emotions and where they stem from to reduce conflict in our lives.


Vanessa Chapman

Vanessa has a background in Business, Psychology, and Mediation. She is currently Director of Client Services for Peaceful Leaders Academy. Some of her hobbies include continuous learning, reading, writing, and participating in yoga retreats!

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