trainer at im-campus

The Author

Fidana Alieva

Mediation practitioner in commercial, employment, workplace, family business and medical malpractice disputes

Is there right space to mediate or maybe mediation can take place in any space accidentally organized by the mediator right after receiving a mediation request? Of course, there are cases when a mediator has to adapt quickly. Let’s view a situation when a mediator has enough time to create a special space for mediation, involving and efficient. Ability to create such a space demonstrates leadership skills of the mediator because only a natural leader is able to motivate people around not by pushing and manipulating but by providing appropriate conditions and environment.

Space for building trust

Welcoming atmosphere which builds rapport is very much needed by the parties at the beginning of the process and support them through the whole mediation session. Building trust requires space comfortable and safe for both parties to be fully involved and a mediator to fulfill her duties properly. Due to COVID-19 mediating space in most of the cases moves online but it does not mean that mediators are enough to have laptops, speedy internet-connection and parties on the other side of the screen. I would say that it is even more energy consuming for a mediator to create safe space online, though it is really possible. And these are points to take care of:

  • Online service, easy to use with detailed instructions of it provided by a mediator or a case-manager beforehand and confidentiality guaranteed.
  • Placing the session’s participants on the screen visually in equal which is also manageable technically on the number of online platforms.
  • Thinking through mediator’s appearance on the screen. I would recommend to make upper part of the body including face, neck and shoulders visible on the screen. It is also preferable to organize perspective behind. Is it a piece of art? Then what kind of art is it? Or maybe it is a shelf with books? Then what kind of books are they? Or it is just a wall behind you? All these things may also contain and send some messages to the parties and they may characterize mediator as a person, as a professional, so pay attention to all of those things.
  • Mediator’s voice is a tool which also contributes to a safe online environment: tone, speed, pauses, everything matters in this context.

Space for communication

If the space described above is organized and thought of prior to mediation itself, space for communication sometimes faces unpredictability because no mediator can 100% foresee and predict possible behavior, emotional vibes and negotiating strategies of the parties. They could be analyzed in pre-mediation but still all these are assumptions which could be tested when mediation starts. Questioning technique is a great tool to use in mediation and when parties are stuck in making the right and mutually acceptable choice questioning about what would be a balance between affordable and desirable keeps communicating space open and negotiating moving forward. Mediation space eventually changes initial reluctance of the parties to communicate into acceptance of each other’s view and it gives relationship a new try. In case if particular relationship cannot be continued, it is transformed into another kind of relationship or upgraded to the higher level or even ended but on a positive note.  

Space for decision-making

If communication between parties is manageable, mediating space naturally has enough energy to come down from generalities to particulars and make a resolution happen. The most interesting and challenging part for a mediator is being “an invisible hand” in creating this space within which people come to an amicable solution and take courage to make a decision for themselves. Even those mediators who apply evaluative model are fond of having such a space and active, involved parties at the table.

Space for self-reflection

Whatever the result is every mediator needs some space for self-reflection to analyze what was performed skillfully and contemplate what should be done differently the next time. For me it is not about my thoughts only. After every mediation I use a special sheet in my mediator’s notebook and fix all my insights in written answering certain questions. This habit motivates me greatly for new challenges in my mediation career.

It is all about mediation space, creative, challenging, simple and at the same time phenomenal! Do not forget about YOURSELF! YOU not only as a mediator but also as a person invest in shaping unique space for your clients in mediation by your manner of speaking, gesturing, looking and walking. Take maximum advantage of yourself when creating mediation space and consequently you will be acknowledged with deep gratitude and enormous success.