How a mediator works

publication date 05.05.2007

How a mediator works

Helping to settle other people´s disputes is a no simple task. The disputing parties themselves do not know how to proceed further. A mediator, however, must know how to cope and help those parties in finding new alternative solutions.

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Mediation is a method of resolving conflicts and disputes between two parties in a cultivated way as mediated by the third, neutral party. This assertion alone is suggesting how heavy is the burden borne by this person. A mediator should conduct negotiations between the disputing parties in a very sensitive manner, viewing the fact every interpersonal relation puts a heavy burden on the minds of the parties involved. The paramount misson of a mediator is to help the parties  improve their momentary situation and resolve the conflict in principle for the future. In doing so, he or she works with a specifically defined communication techniques among which the method of active listening plays a crucial role. 

Mediation session

A mediation session usually takes three hours. In more complex cases, however, more such sessions are needed, sometimes six, even eight. No wonder, as the parties come to seek help only after the conflict has aggravated so much that they do not know how to get out of it, with its consequences showing themeselves in every detail of their mutual relation. The parties, obviously, still have a possiblity to end the mediation any time, though. 

A mediator has to be properly skilled in the sphere of effective negotiation (the idea of a little fly sitting somewhere in the corner of the room where negotiations between the management of Skoda Auto and the trade union are taking place – they may not have hired an experienced mediator). A mediator must not be involved in any way in resolving the conflict, which is why, on principle, he or she is not supposed to keep in touch for a longer period with neither party to eliminate bias. What is significant, though, is that a mediator never acts as an advocate or consultant for the disputing parties not judging their guilt or share of the blame for the conflict. His or her role is just to conduct the mediation process professionally and support equally both the participants in the negotiation. The objective here is to find a constructive solution and clear issues in the course of the proceedings. A mediator must be able to reestablish an interrupted information exchange between the parties.

Miroslav Hájek

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