The choice of the space in which mediation takes place is vital to the process of conflict resolution. Factors such as climate, the culture of mediation practice, and procedures that govern the practice of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) (such as rules of confidentiality) have usually confined ADR proceedings to enclosed spaces in colder climes.
However, the ubiquitous phrase, “this is how we have always done it”, can be one of the greatest enemies of progress. ADR professionals often book face-to-face meetings without consideration for the particular socio-cultural needs of clients.
While the location chosen by the service provider may be a neutral safe environment, it may not necessarily be the best option for the individuals concerned, given their personal circumstances.
By doing away with the prospect of face-to-face confrontation, mediation by telephone and skype allows parties’ negotiations to be less emotionally-charged – away from the gaze of the other party who might be ready for confrontation.
With telephone and skype as options in the mediation toolkit, meeting spaces can potentially be expanded to include the secure and familiar environments of parties’ homes. Our world is growing smaller and consciousness about our socio-cultural diversity is rising. It might be worth our while, as service providers, to consider incorporating new technologies into our service models, thus making them more inclusive and efficient.
Originally posted December 2010
Regina Thompson is a roster mediator for mediate393. She also has extensive experience mediating human rights matters.
Strategic Intervention Services Associates