Special Issue on: Mediation Conflict Resolution Intervention Reconciliation

As a mediator I thought it was time to review some of the processes Mediators are engaging in today. My style of mediation is “Transformative Mediation” which is the newest concept of mediation, based on Folger and Bush’s book THE PROMISE OF MEDIATION, 1994. Transformative mediation is based on the values of “empowerment” of each of the parties as much as possible, and “recognition” by each of the parties of the other parties’ needs, interests, values and points of view. The potential for transformative mediation is that any or all parties or their relationships may be transformed during the mediation. I meet with parties together, since only they can give each other “recognition”.

I support this process by allowing and supporting the parties in mediation to determine the direction of their own process. In transformative mediation, the parties structure both the process and the outcome of mediation, and the mediator follows their lead.

Let talk about conflict…..often conflicts can arise over simple misunderstandings that may be related to culture, gender, religion, values, race or personality clashes Mediation is a relatively non intrusive process of resolving conflict between two or more parties through an impartial/neutral third party.

Mediation is a voluntary, alternative process for conflict resolution that promotes understanding and mutual respect and provides a safe place for participants to speak to each other.

Mediation is an informal, but structured discussion to help conflicting parties express their concerns and feelings, and to reach a resolution without surrendering control to someone else.

Mediation is an opportunity to check and clarify facts, exchange ideas, share feelings, which encourages participants to accept responsibility and challenges them to generate possible solutions that can result in a mutually satisfactory agreement wherein all parties benefit.

Mediation is a cost effective and minimally disruptive win/win process intended to preserve the stability of the workplace.

Mediation Process:

  • Step 1: Introducing and explaining the process of mediation to all participants
  • Step 2: Having each participant talk to the Mediator in the presence of the other party, without interruption, to communicate their perspective on the conflict
  • Step 3: Providing participants an opportunity to talk to each other
  • Step 4: Helping participants work together to explore a variety of options for resolution, often not previously considered
  • Step 5: Allowing all parties to achieve the best possible solutions which are honour bound.

Indicators of mediation:

  • Restoring the relationship is important to all parties;
  • The conflict may be a misunderstanding; no great disparity in power exists;
  • All parties need the opportunity to let off steam;
  • A resolution is sought quickly;
  • Parties do not want a punitive settlement;
  • Confidentiality is important;
  • The parties want to resolve the conflict themselves; and
  • Neither side wants a formal process.

Why should you choose mediation?

  • What possible solutions or compromises do you think are available?
  • What do you want from the other person?
  • What are you willing to give up in return?
  • Are you ready to consider a settlement?
  • Are there no legal implications?
  • Are you willing to compromise?
  • Is there a communication breakdown?
  • Is this a conflict over different values?

Benefits:

  • Convenient;
  • Comfortable;
  • Understandable;
  • One of Many Options;
  • Flexible;
  • Educational;
  • Healthy; and
  • Effective.

The Mediator:

  • May be a volunteer;
  • Is a process facilitator;
  • Remains neutral and unobtrusive;
  • Helps open communication channels;
  • Helps clarify the conflict;
  • Is an agent of reality;
  • Is trained to assist all parties to resolve their conflict;
  • Is a confidant;
  • Defines and controls the interacting process;
  • Is an organizer;
  • Listens to all sides and facilitates opening paths to conflict resolution;
  • Is a guide through the process; and
  • Allows all parties to effect a resolution themselves.

Mediation is not:

  • Confrontational;
  • Adversarial;
  • Position bargaining;
  • Coercive;
  • Negotiation;
  • Counseling;
  • Arbitration;
  • A grievance process; or
  • A legal hearing that determines
  • Guilt or innocence.

How is a Mediator chosen?

Consideration is given to:

  • Ensuring that the Mediator has no direct involvement and is not closely identified with any parties;
  • Verifying that the all participants have confidence in the Mediator;
  • Verifying that the Mediator has the skills and characteristics necessary to manage the process;
  • Ensuring that the Mediator can commit sufficient time to work with all participants; and
  • Determining if co-Mediators should be used.
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