Mediation is a tool in and of itself, allowing for peaceful resolution of tensions and conflicts where this is within a relationship, community or society. The Europe 2020 goals for a more inclusive Europe with higher social integration and community cohesion are more important than ever in light of increasing societal tension, linked to the economic crisis, immigration & refugee crisis and increasing multi-ethnicity communities.
What is mediation?
“Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is when an impartial person or mediator – trained in dealing with difficult discussions between two opposing sides – acts like a referee in a dispute.”
Make your notes less divisive!
I work to ensure that everything surrounding the mediation guides the parties towards cooperation, including the way I take notes. Dividing a rectangular sheet of paper with a line down the middle, as I had seen other mediators do, felt unnecessarily divisive, so I started taking notes in circles. This creates an overlap and can help to create a feeling of togetherness and working in tandem to gain a positive outcome.
We all know the feeling of not knowing where to look or what to do with our hands, picking at our nails, clicking pens etc can unconsciously highlight our unease in a situation. Bringing a stress ball or something similar to the table can help to alleviate this!
Watch the time with an hourglass.
I am too absorbed in the process to pay attention to time. But I still need to let long-winded parties know that it is time to give the other side a turn, and ensure that I spend about the same amount of time with each party while in caucus.
Looking at my watch suggests disinterest or that I am not listening, and a timer would be disruptive and counterproductive to the positive atmosphere we are aiming to create, so I use a five-minute hourglass as a visual reminder for opening statements.
Worksheets and exercises
By empowering the parties themselves with activities and workshops we can easily work out the most important issues and where the sticking points are. This can give a sense of balance to the mediation, it can also allow parties to feel their voices are heard and understood which means a more positive outcome.
A peaceful setting.
I want everything in the mediation space to suggest peaceful intentions. I have something for the parties to eat and drink, have live plants in the office, never wear red, and place images that draw the viewer into the distance.