If there are cardinal sins in mediation, mediator bias may well be number one (perhaps tied with breaking confidentiality). Nothing will end credibility quicker than the appearance that the mediator is taking a side in a dispute. But how do mediators, mere mortals (it’s true!), maintain neutrality? What tools are available to combat the very human tendency to make and pass judgment? Below are a few that might help you the next time you are in the room.
There are many tools in the mediator’s toolbox, and the process would not work but for any number of them, including neutrality, non-judgment, active listening, … the list goes on. One of the defining characteristics of mediation is confidentiality. Confidentiality helps provide a space where parties feel comfortable sharing intimate details that one would not, under normal circumstances, confide in a stranger.
You’ve been scheduled for mediation at the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR). You may be anxious about meeting with the other party and there are probably a number of questions running through your mind: What will the process be? What can I do to prepare? Will this be worth my time?
Frank D. Hill is a volunteer with CCR. In addition to this blog, Frank helps manage CCR's social media presence.