Seeing mediation afresh

It’s been my pleasure during the last few weeks to have been co-delivering a mediation training course to a lovely bunch of people who will soon be contributing their new skills for the benefit of the community. 

As well as being a great way to keep my own practice sharp, a big part of my enjoyment is in seeing mediation afresh through the eyes of people discovering it for the first time.

It’s easy to take for granted the range of skills and techniques experienced mediators can pull out of the bag when helping clients to resolve their conflict. So it’s a good reminder when – usually by day three of the six intensive days – trainees say how much more there is to mediation than meets the eye.

do’s and don’ts
It’s also exciting when trainees come to understand why facilitative mediation is so powerful. Seeing how its principles are applied in practice, to earn and keep clients’ trust, is one element of that understanding. Another is appreciating what mediators don’t do – judge, direct or advise clients, and how important that is to a good outcome.

Observing those ‘don’ts’ is one of the hardest things to achieve as a mediator. It means unlearning what many of us tend to do in our everyday conversations with friends, family or colleagues. It also means recognising when old habits start creeping back so that they don’t get in the way of clients reaching their own sustainable solutions.

On co-mediating

Perhaps my biggest training pleasure is seeing people’s changing reaction to the idea that they will be co-mediating cases – working alongside another mediator as equals. Their initial “Why complicate things?” usually transforms into “Thank goodness!” once they start practising. This was my experience as a trainee too.

It soon becomes apparent that two pairs of ears and eyes, two sets of skills, double the energy and twice the creativity adds up to a lot of support in the room for the clients. For the mediators it provides invaluable space to think, someone to bounce ideas off and to share the load.

I’m still an enthusiast for skilled co-mediating. The benefits apply regardless of experience. Every case is different and sometimes very complex, so two heads are certainly better than one in meeting new challenges.

Also, mediators are subject to life’s ups and downs like everyone else. The chances are that one mediator’s excellent day will more than compensate for the other’s less good one, ensuring that the clients get the maximum out of what may be a one-time opportunity for them.

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Last but not least, co-mediators keep each other on their toes. Learning how to give meaningful peer feedback is part of the training and it continues to be our practice at Concord. We take the time to reflect at the end of each and every case. As well as helping us to continue learning and improving, by keeping each other accountable on those do’s and don’ts of mediation we ensure the foundation for a positive and lasting outcome for our clients.

Tracey Adamson, December 2019

For a fresh approach to conflict with our expert co-mediation, please get in touch.

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