by Rita Bailey

Individual sessions

On a one-to-one basis, the mediator first approaches each individual involved in the dispute to talk through

  • What took place
  • What the individual’s feelings are
  • How they would like to move forward
  • Their fears, concerns and expectations
  • Whether the dispute can be helped by mediation.

At this stage, you need to explore each person’s perception and understanding of mediation, though without overloading them with information about the process. Ensure that any anxieties are reduced by answering questions.

Mediation starts at first contact with each individual. From experience, the opportunity to talk through their story, explore the issues and be asked what their interests and outcomes might be helps people to start to develop clarity about their situation and what they would like to take place.

At this pre-meeting stage, the mediator can also help individuals to consider the advantages and disadvantages of mediation and of the other options. For example, a senior manager dealing with a formal grievance complaint was given an estimate as to how long the process of the grievance complaint would take, what would be involved and the possible outcomes as compared with a mediation meeting lasting a maximum of one to two hours.