I offer mediation services to individuals, groups and organisations. I am an accredited Interpersonal Mediation Practitioner.
If you are involved in a dispute and would like to explore whether mediation is a possible route forward, please contact me by phone (07771 995509) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
So what is mediation?
In a nutshell:
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution. The key feature is that the disputants agree to use the services of an independent, impartial mediator to help them resolve their issues when they can’t find resolution by themselves.
Mediation is voluntary and disputants agree any outcomes; unlike arbitration and litigation in which outcomes are imposed by a third party, either an independent arbitrator or judge. This means the parties should all feel they have a share in the outcome and their positions have been respected.
Where there is either tension in relationships or they’ve broken down, mediation can help to get back on track and avoid the need for costly arbitration. Mediation seeks to retrieve relationships, and control of the process stays with the individuals / parties involved.
A longer description:
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential form of conflict resolution designed to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise between parties who are in dispute. It’s the same as negotiation in that disputants meet face to face in an attempt to resolve their differences without going to arbitration or a court of law. However, mediation differs from negotiation in that disputants agree to use the services of an independent impartial mediator to help them resolve their issues when they can’t find resolution by themselves.
Mediation as a form of conflict resolution is most useful and effective where the disputants have a vested interest in restoring and maintaining an ongoing relationship and there is equality of power in the relationship, e.g. in the workplace; parents after divorce. This means the focus is on working together to go forward to find a mutually acceptable outcome that focuses on how things will be different in the future, rather than determining who was right or wrong in the past. (This is unlike negotiation, litigation or arbitration where ongoing relationship does not matter and there is not necessarily equality of power in the relationship.)
Unlike in arbitration and litigation the mediator does not make judgements or determine outcomes. Any outcomes agreed are those agreed by the disputants, and they are not legally binding unless separately signed up to in writing.
Mediators have no vested interest in the arguments, the positions or the outcomes from the mediation. Their job is to look after the interests, rights and needs of all the parties equally to help them agree, if possible, outcomes that they can all sign up to. This means not just focussing on the task and the facts, but welcoming into the room all the facets of the clients and acting as a ‘container’ to help each party put their best foot forward and cater for their history, their ‘spin’, their conflict styles, their emotions and manipulations, all of which will influence their coping strategies.
The mediator asks questions to uncover underlying interests, that is what is important to each party in the issue and why and how to express that in a way it can be heard; to assist parties to understand the issues; to encourage them to be reflective about themselves and empathise with the other parties’ perspective. All this is focussed on helping the disputants to clarify the options for resolving the dispute, to open up and/or improve dialogue and to find a way forward that is acceptable for all sides.
Other aspects of mediation as a process
Mediation has structure, timetable and dynamics that ordinary negotiation lacks. It involves a step by step process that is voluntary on all sides. Both sides have to agree to go forward to each stage. If any of the disputants decide they don’t wish to continue then the mediation process is halted at that point.
The mediator first meets with all parties individually to understand the issue from their point of view. The purpose is to ascertain what are the underlying interests and needs of each disputant and whether the disputant feels they want to put those needs forward in a joint meeting with the other parties, with a view to finding an acceptable way forward for all concerned.
If there is agreement from all parties then a joint meeting will be held where both sides have an opportunity to find common ground or an agenda for discussion to reach mutually acceptable outcomes for things to be different in the future. These outcomes should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and time bound).