Meet Benjamin Sylvand, one of our Associates. He shares some of the ins and outs of his unique skills and mastery, which make him a valuable part of the CS&A team.
Tell us about your role at CS&A. I am a consultant and trainer in crisis management and conflict negotiation.
How does mediation help with risk and crisis management? When the human dimension is not sufficiently supported, crises are often followed by social crises. Mediation helps mitigate this risk.
What is the difference between crisis negotiation and mediation, and is one better than the other when managing a crisis? If so, why? The difference between mediation and negotiation lies in access to stakeholders. Mediation is about helping all stakeholders to resolve their conflicts. Negotiation is the accompaniment of one of the parties in conflict. Both are effective. Whenever possible, I prefer mediation, which empowers the parties involved.
What are the most significant challenges facing leaders, teams and organizations in a crisis and conflict situation today? One of the fundamental challenges in crisis management and conflict resolution is to build commitment to a common goal.
What is a good way for a business to prepare for crisis negotiations? The best way to prepare for crisis negotiation is to understand your power and potential and the consequences of your decisions and actions. I see too many negotiations conducted without a real strategy, and, therefore, without satisfactory results, especially in the long term.
Economies around the world are more connected than ever before. How has globalization impacted conflicts in the workplace and business performance, and how can someone like you/with your skills help? Globalization means communicating with people from other cultures, which can be a source of conflict. Developing a cooperative mindset while knowing your capabilities and mandate helps to avoid conflict and reinforce cooperation. This is what I do with individual and collective coaching dedicated to crisis management and conflict resolution.
Would you say that conflict can be constructive because it can help bring about change or progress? Conflict is an invitation to interact differently. And why not take advantage of it to interact in a way that is satisfying for yourself and others? Conflict is a constructive opportunity if its resolution is intended as such. This requires a strategy, which is not always easy to achieve, hence the importance of professional support.
You recently published a book. Can you share what it’s about and why you wrote it? The book “Faciliter la résolution de conflit” (Facilitating Conflict Resolution – currently only available in French) analyzes conflict dynamics, particularly from a psychological point of view. It proposes a method and tools for effective conflict resolution, including the “Conflict Resolution Compass.” I wrote it for people who manage conflict and those who accompany people in conflict.
You have much experience mediating labour issues. In the last year, we’ve seen many companies reduce their workforces. Meta, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google have laid off employees without always using a sensitive approach. While there’s no easy way to implement job cuts, is there anything a company can do to address labour dispute resolution without risk to a company’s internal and external reputation and costly legal battles? Downsizing is a major source of conflict, even when it doesn't have to be. No one wants to stay with a company that can't continue to operate as it has. Those who understand this are usually the talented people who negotiate their departure and find fulfillment elsewhere. Conflict erupts when the situation is not seen as an opportunity, and people stubbornly pursue a course they know has no way out. Taking everyone's needs into account enables us to imagine acceptable and satisfying possibilities.
Now for something that's not about work: if you had one day free of commitments (work, family or otherwise), what would you do with those 24 hours? If I had 24 hours free, I'd go hiking in the polar regions, read a few good books and write!
Benjamin Sylvand is an Associate with CS&A based in France. With extensive negotiation and mediation experience, Benjamin Sylvand supports clients in the analysis of conflict and complex situations and the development of bespoke response strategies as well as the conduct of negotiation and mediation.