It is our intention to help you become the best mediator possible. And here are some very basic, commonsense ideas to assist you. Please feel free to call us with any additional points you may have picked up in your mediation practice.
If you are an observer, a mediator or a co-mediator:
- Arrive ahead of time so you can greet your clients in a relaxed manner.
- Professional dress helps to establish the appropriate atmosphere.
- Helping your clients arrive at their best agreement may or may not meet your expectation of the outcome. Clients first!
As an observer: If you wish to observe a mediation session, please remember:
- You must not interfere with the mediation process, EVER. This includes keeping your body language as well as your eye and head movements to an absolute minimum.
- If you wish to take notes of any kind, be sure the mediator gets permission from the disputants FIRST.
- When the mediation has concluded, thank the disputants for allowing you to observe the process. Do not offer any suggestions or make any verbal observations to the disputants or the mediator. Schedule time after the mediation to discuss your observations or ask your questions.
As a mediator:
- If an observer is present, be sure to get the clientsâ€™ permission first. If they do not want an observer, the observer leaves. Even if they have consented to the observer over the phone, the client has the right/option to change her/his mind.
- If there is a co-mediator, make sure you have clearly defined your individual responsibilities BEFORE the clients arrive. Then make sure both you and the co-mediator stick to the agreement. Try not to switch roles during the process; that is too confusing to the clients, and their needs come first.
As a co-mediator:
- Be sure you and your co-mediator have complementary styles. You may find an area of disagreement through the mediation process. SAVE it until you can speak about it privately.
- Take the time to prepare with your co-mediator ahead of time. This is not the place to â€œfly by the seat of your pants/skirtâ€�!
- Decide which co-mediator will contact both clients and then brief his/her co-mediator about the case.
- Decide how the mediation responsibilities will be divided before the clients arrive and stick to your own task.
- Discuss how you will change strategies within the mediation session. Cover all the options, such as: how do I interrupt you if necessary without disrupting the communication between the clients.
- Make sure both mediators have had a chance to speak early in the mediation process. This will allow each of you to have time to gather thoughts and will allow the clients a chance to get familiar with your style and tone of speech. The more comfortable the clients feel and the sooner they feel that way, the quicker the real issues can be brought to light.
- Be willing to acknowledge that each mediator has strengths and weaknesses and be willing to support each other in the strong points and learn new skills from each other in the process.
- Time set aside after the mediation is a great learning process for all.
Whether you serve as an observer, co-mediator or mediator, the paramount goal is to create empathy, recognition and improve communication between the clients. Our opinions do not count. Our judgments cannot be accurate. Manipulation and control are inappropriate behaviors.
The mediation process is an ongoing journey, learning ways to speak up, speak out, speak clearly and to look upon those in conflict across a respectful distance. There is an amazing opportunity for each of us to learn from our clients, from each other, from the process.
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