It is critical for mediators, during this phase of the mediation, to balance active and non-judging listening, curious questioning and gentle prodding towards the “what’s next”.
As with negotiation, the mediation process follows a basic framework. The framework that a mediator uses will be determined by the principles that guide through.
At Riverdale Mediation, these are our guiding principles: we see to provide a safe, fair, confidential, balanced, neutral, informed and voluntary process of self-determination that does no harm.
Each of these principles is important and sometimes they conflict with one another. It is therefore essential to have a solid understanding of the purpose of each principle, and a vision of how these principles will play out in any given situation. When confronted with a new challenge, good mediators will return to the principles that guide them for the solution.
The following is an excerpt from one of our training manuals for new mediators.
PART 6 – MOVING THE PARTIES ALONG
Throughout the mediation, your role is to help the parties make progress, not just listen and empathize and understand. You must help them frame, re-frame, focus on possible solutions and discover what is needed to consider or even try some of them out. It is critical for mediators, during this phase of the mediation, to balance active and non-judging listening, curious questioning and gentle prodding towards the “what’s next”. During this phase you will do extensive summarizing, pro-active framing and taking what you hear and converting it into proposals. You will model the behaviour necessary for parties to move along and ask them to follow these steps:
(a) make a proposal to the other side; explain it as fully as you can and consider, in making it, how it might meet the expressed concerns and needs of the other person;
(b) if the other person likes the proposal, they may accept it; if they do not like it they may reject it, in which case they must make a counter-proposal; and if they are not sure they may say “let me think about it” and move on to the next proposal.
In this phase of the mediation, you will need to use your skills for dealing with heightened emotional responses, and addressing impasse or perceived impasse. Caucusing should be used more often during this phase, but only strategically – e.g./ you have assessed that to be the most appropriate means of conducting the mediation for power imbalance reasons.
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