So, you’re about to take part in a mediation process….

This may seem daunting, particularly if the conflict has been going on for some time.

For some people, even the idea that they are “in dispute” is difficult to face. But this is your opportunity to make mediation a successful process. It is not whether you are in conflict but HOW you manage it that counts.

To be effective, both people need to look at the issues and collaborate on how they might be explored and resolved.

This is not always an easy thing to do, especially if there has been a breakdown in communication. A mediator is there to help you to have an effective and constructive dialogue.

What will a mediator do?

A mediator is an expert in the mediation process and will facilitate –

  • Effective & Constructive Discussion
  • Greater Understanding
  • Identification of Core Issues and Goals
  • Acknowledgement of Key Needs and Points of View
  • Exploration of Potential Outcomes
  • Reality Testing Outcomes
  • Negotiation
  • Agreement

Mediation is confidential and provides an opportunity for those involved to address the problem in a constructive way. It is an efficient and cost-effective process in comparison to other modes of dispute resolution.

Preparing Yourself

You can increase the chances of a satisfying and successful mediation in a number of ways. Ask yourself:

  • What are the issues or headings that need to be discussed?
  • What information do you want the other person to hear?
  • What information might the other person want you to hear?
  • How would you like the future to be different to the past situation? What needs or goals can you identify when trying to answer this?
  • How might the other person like the future to be different? What needs or goals might be important to them?
  • At this early stage can you identify some possible outcomes that might address the needs and goals of both people?

When preparing in this way it is also important to think about HOW you might communicate when you meet with the other person and the mediator.  The following suggestions have proven highly effective.

  • Give the other person the space and time to say what they need to say.
  • Listen to what the other person is saying to you.
  • Let them know what you have understood so that they can clarify any misunderstandings.
  • When it is your time to say what you need to say, use conciliatory language rather than language that focuses on blame. For example, avoid using the word “You” and instead focus on statements like “My concern is…” or “I have a problem with….”

Finally, and perhaps most effective – Think about what you value in the other person and focus on that in order to be able to have a discussion with them. This might be something that you are happy to share with them, or something that you would prefer to keep to yourself. It might be something about the past, or an attribute or skill that they possess. It can help to remember that we each have our good points – something that can get lost when we find ourselves in conflict.

Logistics

A mediator will contact you before mediation to discuss when/where/who will attend. They will ask you about the problem to obtain a better understanding of the key issues.

Mediation involves those who know most about the problem AND have the authority to make a decision as to how to resolve the problem. It is therefore important to be clear about who needs to attend a meeting.

The mediator may ask you to prepare a brief summary of the problem and may suggest this be shared with the other person. This can be helpful in preparing everyone for the meeting.

A mediator may require you to sign an appointment agreement before mediation, confirming the engagement of their services and other important information. It will include a confidentiality clause so that parties can be open in their discussions. It will also set out logistics and any payment arrangements.

A mediator may require payment of estimated fees before mediation. These will be adjusted if mediation takes less or more time than envisaged.

It is important that you set aside the necessary time for mediation. Many commercial and workplace mediations take the greater part of a day. It is best to clear your schedule so that progress is not stunted by time constraints.

Concerns & Questions

If you have any concerns or questions about the process you should discuss these with the mediator before mediation. The mediator is there to assist negotiations and to create a safe environment for effective discussion. The more information the mediator has about your concerns, needs and goals, the better equipped they are to assist.