Core Features of Mediation
Decision making/conflict resolution process (sometimes facilitated confrontation)
Parties are assisted by a third person
Who attempts to improve the process of decision making/conversation
Using a variety of skills and techniques
To assist parties in reaching an outcome to which they can each assent
o The decision makers are the parties themselves
Mediator is like a midwife, to help to come to a resolution – not the decision maker
Image: the ABC triangle, where the line of primary tension is between a and b
o C’s purpose is to help mediate a and b, but not fix their problem
Context for Mediation
Mediation occurs in a wide, wide range of contexts...
o Interpersonal disputes between co-workers or management/staff
o Organizational visioning/restructuring
o Insurance companies and individuals
o Families – parent/teen
o Families – divorcing couples or between partners simply wanting to work out an issue
o Families – adult siblings
o FCS & Parents of apprehended children
o Disputes between businesses
o Disputes involving multi-stakeholder groups (e.g. Land use disputes)
o Victim-Offender mediation (from cases of minor crime to post-incarceration meetings in cases of very serious
o Everything from a minor fraction to a major situation like murder, get put under victim offender
o Union-Management Agreement Bargaining
o Between friends, roommates
o Between neighbours,
o Within community groups, religious groups
o Between cultural groups
o Between nations/between distinct groups within nations
Between two people or involving large groups of 100+ individuals (and everything in between).
For cases dealing with tangible or intangible issues.
For single incident events or events with long histories.
Can include only the people directly involved or it can draw in a larger circle including those more indirectly involved.
Insider Mediation vs. External Mediation
o Society tends to prefer external
No bias; they don’t know anyone in the situation
People sometimes goes to a trusted community leader, but it would lead to the ABC’s C to tell A or B
In a perfect world, A or B would listen, but in North America, that does not happen (external
style of mediation)
Privacy is held high
Mediators have specific lines of work the context
o They do not take care of all types of mediations
Most challenging: victim-offender
o The emotional rollercoaster can take a toll on the people
To prepare or not to prepare?
o Not as raw anymore
o There will be bias; not honest anymore
To look for trouble spots, assess appropriateness for mediation, assess who should be involved...
To build rapport between mediator and participants
o Putting money into the emotional bank account; mediator can judge whether the line has been passed or not
To build trust in process
To prepare parties for session – to help parties to be at their best, so that parties shine not mediator
To allow mediation to be an informed choice
To allow mediator to prepare for session
Pre-Mediation Challenges Mediation
Parties may want you to pitch your tent in their camp
Managing people's desire to use session as venue to pin blame on the other person.
Managing unrealistic expectations
Balancing hope with reality
Determining the appropriate mediation process, given the situation
Vastly different goals of parties for process
Dealing with logistics; arranging session/dealing with timing issues
Managing your own biases as they develop
Mediation is turning that corner when there is a conflict, not to send them back to their happy place
o =] ---------------------------- =[ (turn this corner rather than back to the beginning)
Who needs to be there? Or be informed?
What will (not) be discussed? What is purpose of session?
When will it take place?
Where? What location feels neutral and safe?
How? What will the seating arrangement look like?
Classic Mediation Model
Stage One – open the dialogue
Stage Two – hear from both sides,
o paraphrase each side let people know they’ve been hurt (what are the problems that need to be
o Summarize issues,
o name agenda neutrally
Stage Three – build understanding on the issues between the parties using IAE, PI, etc.
o How will you determine which issue you will start?
Where you start depends on:
What is most pressing for people?
Where can one achieve early success?
What is common?
o What kind of questions?
What is it about x that is important to you?
When x happened, what meaning did you take from that?
Can you talk about a time when things went well between you and y? What was that like?
What were you hoping for when you said x?
Can you provide a specific example?
Is it fair to sayt hat what is most important to you about this is x?
All these questions are open ended, used to open up conversation
Stage Four – plan resolution, test agreements…
Follow-up acknowledges the challenges implicit in the conflict de-escalation model.
Is highly dependent on the situation being mediated
Absence can re-ignite conflict
Purpose: To plan for life after mediation, to check in with participants, to check in on agreements
Technique: Set time fram