Mediators’ Opening Statement

The role of the mediator is to help parties reach a solution to their problem and to arrive at an outcome that both parties are happy to accept. Mediators avoid taking sides, making judgements or giving guidance. They are simply responsible for developing effective communications and building consensus between the parties. The focus of a mediation meeting is to reach a common sense settlement agreeable to both parties in a case.

For a mediator to be successful he or she must possess a wide range of skills. One of the most important, but perhaps least appreciated, is the ability to actively listen to what a party is saying and to note what the party is not saying. All too often we hear what we expect someone to say rather than what is actually said. It is a fundamental principle that mediators must not prejudge the case nor impose their own prejudices on the parties. Furthermore, a mediator has to be able to tune into “where the speaker is coming from” and read the “sub text” or hidden messages given out by the parties.


1) Welcomes and words of encouragement

2) Personal introductions – check what the parties prefer to be called

3) Explaining briefly the purpose of the mediation, and the role of the mediators which is to

•    give each side the opportunity to speak and be heard

•    control the session with the parties’ help

•    explore ideas for settlement realistically

•    not make decisions for the parties or judge right or wrong

•    work towards the future rather than go back constantly over the past

•    help the parties work at their pace, and make the best possible use of the time

4) Introducing and agreeing ground rules, and what is expected from the parties

(You may find it useful to have these on a flipchart. You could also give them to the parties on a card which they could read while they were waiting for the session to start.)

ü     listening – speak one at a time

ü    openness – it is requested that the parties are open with one another, information when requested and are also open to the possibility of a resolution

ü    patience – people are asked to stay in the room – we can discuss problems and doubts if   they arise

ü     people are expected to remain seated at all times

ü    confidentiality (and note-taking) –  apart from an agreement anything said stays in the room, notes will be destroyed, things said in mediation cannot be used in court

ü     respect – avoid accusation and blame, and abusive language

ü    control – people may be angry or upset, and they and mediators can call a break, but the mediator will use various kinds of control to keep both sides working as constructively as possible, for example, interrupting name-calling sessions

ü    voluntariness – people may decide the session is not working for them – they are asked to alert the mediators and can discuss this with them in a side meeting, (or caucus) if they want to

5) Explaining how the session will be run:

•    comfort facilities and breaks, duration of session

•    who will speak first – outline of the process

•    agreements may be reached, can be written, and are not binding in court

6) Dealing with questions

7) Checking with each disputant’s willingness to participate

Guidelines for mediators’ opening statement during the statement the mediators should be:

  • Engaging individuals without bias
  • Dealing with misunderstandings, misapprehensions
  • Introducing selves and process clearly, confidently and in a way that the parties can understand
  • Building trust and rapport
  • Creating a calm atmosphere
  • Using appropriate, simple language

Note: You may need to vary the style and language of your opening statement for different circumstances and different people. Check with participants whether there are any cultural considerations to take on board.

Who will benefit from the course?

This course is of value to professionals and managers in organisations, wishing to introduce mediation to handle workplace conflict swiftly and cost effectively and who handle the following:

Delegates will learn how to:

Related information