So, what is Mediation?

by ltconsulting on May 17, 2012

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.

SO, WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is based on the principle of collaborative problem-solving, with a focus on the future and rebuilding relationships, rather than apportioning blame.’

Quote from mediation policy, University of Central Lancashire

Mediation is where an impartial third party, the mediator, helps two or more people in dispute to attempt to reach an agreement. Any agreement comes from those in dispute, not from the mediator. The mediator is not there to judge, to say one person is right and the other wrong, or to tell those involved in the mediation what they should do. The mediator is in charge of the process of seeking to resolve the problem but not the outcome.

Mediators may be trained employees who act as internal mediators in addition to their day jobs or they may be from an external mediation provider. They can work individually or in pairs as co-mediators.

Mediation distinguishes itself from other approaches to conflict resolution in a number of ways. Mediation is:

  • informal
  • flexible
  • voluntary
  • morally binding but has no legal status
  • confidential

What does mediation seek to achieve?

Mediation seeks to provide an informal and speedy solution to workplace conflict, and it can be used at any point in the conflict cycle. What the process offers is a safe and confidential space for participants to find their own answers. It does this in a number of ways, by:

  • exploring the issues, feelings and concerns of all participants and rebuilding relationships using joint problem-solving
  • allowing those involved to understand and empathise with the feelings of those they are in conflict with
  • giving participants insights into their own behaviour and that of others and opening up opportunities for change
  • helping participants develop the skills to resolve workplace difficulties for themselves in future
  • encouraging communication and helping the people involved to find a solution that both sides feel is fair and offers a solution that favours them
  • using energy generated by conflict in a positive way to move things on.

What happens during a mediation?

There are distinct phases in the mediation process. The first stage will be to deal with the parties separately, while the remaining stages will generally be dealt with during the joint session. There may be a need to separate the parties at various points and speak to them individually – if there appears to be an impasse or the mediator feels that one side is unwilling to divulge information that might help to break the deadlock.

There are occasions where shuttle mediation – the mediator moving between the parties and relaying the views of each – has to be used because parties will not sit in the same room with each other; or because at certain points it is more effective to do so. But the aim is to bring them together eventually.

Although mediation is generally assumed to take place face to face, in special circumstances, it can also be carried out via email, video link or over the phone.

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

Previous post:

Next post: