Mediation helps people with conflicts to explore, and oftentimes to agree on, mutually acceptable settlements. Positive results turn on several factors, not the least of which are the mediator’s training, skills, and experience.
Competent mediators come from a variety of professions, and employ different styles. Among other factors consider each person’s experience, reputation, advanced degrees, mediation training, and accreditation by various organizations.
Also, consider your personal preferences. Do you want a mediator who dictates solutions, one who suggests options, or do you prefer a less directive approach?
The minimal qualifications for anyone who undertakes this important responsibility are:
- Impartiality – Independence and objectivity. Some people describe this characteristic as “being an honest broker.”
- Integrity – Mediators oftentimes convey information that parties may find disturbing, or difficult to accept. This requires the candor to communicate honestly, the courage to follow professional standards, and the strength to reject unethical suggestions occasionally advanced by participants.
- Respect – Responding to disputants as people with difficult problems under trying circumstances.
- Good listeners
- Ethical – Mediators face an array of ethical issues. Chose only those who have agreed to be bound by published standards from recognized organizations.
Important Personal Traits – Other helpful qualifications include empathy, maturity, calmness, analytical skills, persuasiveness, and intelligence.
Interview Potential Mediators – It is important for mediators to establish personal rapport with all mediation participants. Conducting a brief telephone interview will go a long way toward determining whether you and the mediator are a good fit. It also affords an opportunity to gather more information about the mediator’s training, experience, style (transactional, facilitative, evaluative, or directive), processes such as the use of caucus, and availability. Be prepared for the mediator to suggest that the other parties also contact him/her.