Mediation Techniques That Work
When two people or groups have reached a difficult disagreement and are unable to move forward, mediation techniques can be employed by a third party in order to find a mutually beneficial solution.
If the parties must interact with one another in the future, as is the case when there are ongoing business dealings and especially when custodial issues are involved, they need to make sure that they can find an even ground upon which they can communicate successfully and work together in the future without continued conflict.
The key to effective mediation is to follow some essential guidelines that will help keep you on the right track so that you don’t get caught up in the midst of the misunderstanding yourself.
Steps To Successful Mediation
- Make sure that everyone concerned is present and agrees to mediation; both concede that they have so far been unable to come to an agreement on their own.
- Gather all relevant information, including files, notes, photos and whatever other items will aid in your ability to gain an understanding of the situation. These things should be documented and reviewed in their entirety.
- Allow each side an allotted period to say his or her side of the story. No interruptions should be made by anyone when someone else is talking. You may want to jot down some notes so that you are able to ask clarifying questions later.
- Repeat back what has been said – engage in active listening by confirming with both sides that you have heard and fully understood what they are saying. In doing so, you will gain the trust of all those involved. It shows that you care to hear the whole story and are making sure that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for everyone.
- Ask questions. Be simple, direct, and clear. Say things like, “so, what you’re saying is x, right?” or, “you feel like y, correct?”
- Summarize the exchange by paraphrasing what each side has said. Ask what the ideal solution for everyone involved would be and let each person answer.
- Be respectful and treat each person’s concerns and desires as valid and important. Your focus is to help solve he problem, not criticize or pass judgment.
- Propose possible solutions and allow for feedback – but keep control of the conversation and don’t let it to turn into a bickering session. If it does, use logic and facts (“This is what we are trying to figure out. We need to focus only on a and b”). Sometimes there are additional problems that might need to be worked out in a subsequent session. Stick to the issue at hand.
- Avoid asking “why,” just find out the facts – what, when, where, who, and how. The best mediation techniques are direct and to-the-point.
- Don’t judge. Leave your own convictions aside and work to find out what the problem is and how to find a solution that everyone can deal with. Banish preconceived notions from your mind.
- Don’t lead or use baited questions. Use simple, open queries that don’t paint the answerer into a corner.
- Try your best not to interrupt unless you must do so to restore order if things have gotten out of hand and people are talking out of turn.
- Don’t take a side or sympathize. Getting emotional or defensive takes you out of the objective position a good mediator needs to be in.
Proper employment of mediation techniques can help to solve even the most sensitive and difficult disagreements. Conversely, poor mediation can lead to further misunderstanding and animosity.