Becoming a mediator – An introduction to Mediation Skills

Have you ever felt irritated, frustrated, angry, ready to explode? You’re not alone. Whether it’s an argument with a friend, aggravation because a driver cuts in front of you, or a disagreement about the best way to do a job – conflict is part of everyday life. Conflict produces stress, hurts friendships, and can cause injury and death. We can’t always avoid conflict but we can learn to manage it without violence. That way, we use conflict to improve our lives and to learn from past mistakes.

This is essentially the role of the Mediator. Mediation is the act of facilitation parities in conflict towards an agreed settlement through the use of communication, understanding and shared objectives. In specific situations, more frequently these days, marriage settlements, neighbourhood disputes, contract disagreements and conflict resolutions at schools, mediators are asked to intervene and bring about agreed settlements between disputants.

One key factor that separates Mediation from arbitration and negotiation is the Mediator doesn’t make the final decision for the parities concerned. Their role is to get the parties communicating effectively so that THEY are able to reach agreement themselves. This requires key skills – skills that most people can develop with training and coaching.

Total Success run Mediation and Conflict Resolution courses that give delegates an introduction to the art and skill of conflict management and resolution.

How does mediation work?

Mediation is a structured process. Mediators help people take things one step at a time, in a particular order (for example – clarifying and agreeing the problem/s before looking at solutions. Expressing each others concerns before creating ways forward).

For mediation to work well participants must feel safe to discuss difficult issues in a constructive way. The disputants are expected to be clear about what is happening, how they feel, and what they want to do about problems. Good mediation have inbuilt ground rules to help keep lines of communication open, maintain control, and encourage feelings to be expressed without aggression or blame.

Mediators help the disputants to communicate. They must feel empowered to say what they need to, hear what the other side has to say, and respond to one another’s concerns constructively. Mediators allow disputants to be more confident in their ability to reach an agreed settlement. They do this by allowing them to trust one another, find creative ways of fixing problems rather than falling back into negative patterns such as ‘avoid’ or ‘fight’.

Could you become a Mediator

Mediators come in many packages and are trained to become competent in their use of communication to manage conflict.

What skills do you need to become a mediator?

You may already possess key skills – use the lists below to see if you should look further into becoming a mediator. If you feel this if for you then you have options.

  •  We run a Mediation course that gives you core skills
  •  You could volunteer at a Mediation centre in your area. Check Google for Mediation Centres in your vicinity
  • Contact Mediation UK, the mediations main body who will give you great advice in becoming a mediator.

Some core mediation skills

Look at the three areas below. How do you compare to the descriptions?

  • Understanding your own feelings about conflict.

This means recognising your “triggers,” words or actions that immediately provoke an emotional response, like anger. It could be facial expression, a tone of voice, a pointing finger, a certain phrase. Once you know your “triggers,” you can better control your emotions.

  • Active listening.

Go beyond hearing just words; try to understand what the other person is saying. Listen carefully, instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next. Active listening requires concentration and body language that says you are attentive.

  • Generating options for resolving a conflict.

Many people can think of only two ways to manage conflict – fighting or avoiding the problem. Get the facts straight, brainstorm all ideas that might help resolve the argument, and discuss the pros, cons, and consequences.