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2019 International Association for Conflict Management Conference

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A matter of feelings: Mediators’ perceptions of emotion in hierarchical workplace conflicts.

Keywords: positive emotions, negative emotions, mediator perception, workplace mediation, hierarchical labor conflict

Abstract: For a mediator, it is crucial to recognize emotions correctly and act upon them. Particularly in hierarchical labor conflicts, this can be challenging. In this study, we investigate if subordinates and supervisors differ in their emotional experience during mediation and whether mediators perceive these emotions accurately. Data were collected through surveys of mediation participants and their mediators in real hierarchical labor conflicts in the Netherlands. As expected, subordinates experienced more negative emotions during the mediation than supervisors did. Positive emotions, however, were experienced to a similar extent by both supervisors and subordinates in mediation. The most striking result is that there was only a significant relationship between supervisors’ emotions and mediator emotion perception, and this was true for both negative and positive emotions. Furthermore, mediators were more accurate in their perceptions of supervisors’ negative emotions than their positive ones. The implications for mediation theory and practice are discussed.

Meriem Kalter, KU Leuven

Katalien Bollen, KU Leuven

Martin Euwema, KU Leuven


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