by Rita Bailey

What do mediators do?

Mediation, like all conflict resolution approaches, is a means to en end.

The aim

Everything the mediator does should be done with the desired goal in mind, which is

  • To assist the parties to find the answers themselves, rather than having a solution imposed on them
  • To reach a win-win solution
  • To finish with both parties feeling confident that they have been able to sort their differences and move on
  • To avoid the stress, expense and inevitable fall-out that comes from litigation
  • To avoid future conflict
  • Hopefully, to enable both parties to feel that they are now able to give of their best.

The process

The mediator will therefore facilitate, assisting staff members to settle their dispute by finding a way to resolve the issue themselves. This involves inviting each person to take part in the mediation process, in the course of which the mediator will

  • Assist each person to consider the issue from an objective perspective
  • Summarise and clarify what is said and in this way support each person to listen to the other, and understand the other’s point of view
  • Encourage positive and civil interaction between individuals during the mediation process
  • Stay impartial and treat both parties with equal respect and fairness
  • Rephrase the language used by each individual to diffuse any tension
  • Help them to be flexible and explore creative solutions
  • Provide a clear structure for discussion to take place and for potential solutions to occur
  • Assist both parties to progress through each stage of the mediation as smoothly as possible
  • Assess any impasse that may occur during the mediation process and support each person to overcome it quickly and fairly
  • Step back when the individuals are engaging in a positive manner in coming up with their own solutions or their own terms of agreement
  • Ensure, as much as possible, that items for potential future friction have been raised and discussed.