Category Archives: Mediator’s style

Understanding the mediator, their process and where you fit in

Not all mediators are created equal or trained in the same way. Each mediator will have their own particular style of mediation. You can pick a mediator from a roster list that might be available at your court house or do some research and hire a mediator privately. No matter what mediator you select you need to do your homework ahead of time and set your own expectations.

As much as you may be looking to your mediator to facilitate the process to resolve your dispute, it is important to set your own ground rules and determine what kind of settlement you would like to achieve. As we have set out in previous blogs, mediators have different styles and approaches. You will have to determine whether you want a mediator that will take an evaluative approach or a more facilitative approach or something in the middle.

As well, make sure that you understand how the mediation process will be conducted from the onset. Remember you are paying for the mediator to work with you and the other disputing party on your solution so you want to ensure that the process that they engage in also gets to the point and helps you move closer to dispute resolution. The mediator will describe their approach in the beginning and set the ground rules but you need to ensure that this time is used wisely. Make sure that the length of the opening dialogue does not get weighed down in too much process. If lawyers are to be present make sure you fully understand the extent of their involvement in the process. It is important that you convey these expectations to the mediator before the process and make sure they feel comfortable and address your goals for the mediation.

It is also up to you to clearly set out and articulate your issues. It is important that you come prepared for the mediation and that you have provided for the mediator all the necessary background information such as outlining the facts as you see them, providing any supporting materials or documents, providing any law that you have been made aware of (unless you are attending with counsel). Depending upon who you select as your mediator they may have a law background or not so you may have to outline the law for them.

Like anything in life, do your homework, ask lots of questions to ensure that you will feel comfortable with the mediator. Interview them first, find out their qualifications, background, education, affiliated organizations and approach. This is not an easy task given that you must select a mediator with a person you are in a dispute with. However, having a good framework as to what you both want is half the battle. Coming to an agreement as to the mediator gives both of you the best chance possible to resolve your dispute.

What type of mediator style is a good match?

Mediators have different styles and techniques that should be discussed prior to selecting a mediator. In order to select the mediator,your discussions should leave you feeling comfortable with the mediator and confident that they have been transparent with you about the mediation process.

There are considerable differences in the way mediation is practiced. Some mediators may take a strictly facilitative approach displaying a style that leads the parties through a process of discovering what the issues are and how they may be resolved. This type of mediation style does not in any way evaluate the possible outcomes for each individual.

If a mediator is evaluative, they will focus on what a court or arbitrator may decide. This allows the parties to consider and weigh possible outcomes if the matter does end up in court or arbitration. This style may mean that the mediator will be blunt in their approach and assessment asking direct questions to understand the position of each party and why it is held.

Some mediators may also use a hybrid approach that uses both the facilitative and evaluative approach. This style may help parties move past an impasse, particularly if having an evaluative perspective along with the facilitation discussion is needed to have parties be more realistic in terms of their issues and possible solutions.

Mediators may also seek out what type of approach each party feels comfortable with and obtain agreement as to the approach to be used. A mediator should be able to provide such flexibility in order to better meet the disputing parties’ needs. A pre-mediation process design is something that should be considered. This allows each party the ability to have a say in how the mediation will be conducted and may mean that parties are more vested in the process and more committed to obtaining solutions.

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