COVID Conflicts

COVID Conflicts

COVID Conflicts

The age of COVID has seen an increase in conflicts - in the workplace, at home, and in business. Venn Mediation’s online facilitative approach is well suited to helping parties work through these issues in a collaborative and productive manner where the parties are in control of the outcome.

By Ehsan Ali and Alnoor Maherali

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has brought about extraordinary uncertainty and change to our lives as we redefine ‘normal’ every day. Many people are now working from home while many others have been furloughed. Friends and family are no longer able to meet in person while people in the same households are spending more time together than ever before. And economic uncertainty has made past contracts difficult to honor, including rental agreements, leases, and business deals. 

Conflicts were challenging before COVID but the added stress of constant uncertainty and change, and of altered living arrangements and travel restrictions, has made things even more difficult. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Personal Relationships - The result of quarantines and social distancing is that people are spending most of their day in their homes. In New York City, that tends to mean a great deal of time in small spaces. Those who live alone may find this isolating while those who share a space with family, friends, or roommates are struggling too. People are now spending two to three times as much time with their co-habitants as they used to. Based on that increase in contact, there are more things to fight about: a neighbor being too loud, a spouse or partner not cleaning up after themselves, a roommate taking up more space than usual, etc. Some people are running out of things to talk about while others are already contemplating an exit strategy. The divorce rate in Wuhan, China doubled once the lockdown was lifted. Make no mistake, these factors have an effect. 

Office Relationships - Those who were fortunate enough to keep their jobs are likely working from home (except for the medical staff and essential workers who have our utmost admiration and appreciation). While the commute is now significantly shorter and the dress code is much more relaxed, working from home has brought along new challenges. Some people have found work friendships harder to maintain and meetings harder to communicate in when done by Zoom. Others are finding expectations harder to manage and face greater pressure to perform. And those with children are having, somehow, to care for their kids and get their work done at the same time. The result is conflict between employers and employees and between employees themselves. And this stress can compound the home challenges discussed above.

Contractual Relationships - One of the greatest struggles of COVID has been the economic effects of layoffs, furloughs and the overall market uncertainty that has come with many businesses unable to continue to operate. Contracts that were signed in good faith pre-COVID (e.g. leases, mortgages, and business agreements) have now been cast into doubt. The tenant who lost their job may not be able to pay their rent so that they can feed their family, while the landlord needs that rent to pay the mortgage and feed their own family. Everyone is struggling and resolutions are hard to find.

Congratulations if you have not yet barricaded yourself in the bathroom and are refusing to come out. These are hard times and real issues. And your feelings are normal under the circumstances. But unresolved, these matters can fester and get worse. Communicating your worries and frustrations can help, but these messages are not always delivered and/or received as intended.  And sometimes people just can’t see beyond their own problems. This is where mediation can help. At Venn Mediation, we help parties to identify the underlying concerns and triggers to their dispute, acknowledge the stress and challenges of COVID, and facilitate a discussion of ideas that can lead to an appealing outcome for all parties involved. And our mediations are online so that you can have a conversation with the other party safely while practicing social distancing. 

Disputes are never easy, but dispute resolution does not have to be hard.  If you are dealing with a conflict, COVID-related or not, contact us about the nature of your dispute. We are based in New York but do online mediations as well. We would love to help.

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