Tools we use in mediation
Many people ask us the question how does mediation work? Some people confuse mediation with counselling. Two main points of note:-
1. Mediation is not counselling.
2. People who go through the process are not always conducting a separation.
Mediators use various tools during the process. The primary tool used by mediators is a flipchart. This might seem a bit basic but the truth is that flipcharts are a very effective tools in mediation. It facilitates the parties and the mediators alike in visualising the problems and the solutions. Many mediators will use a flip chart to draw out a road map for parties at the start of the mediation.
They facilitate parties in viewing comparisons side by side, best case scenarios/worst case scenarios and financial details where relevant.
Mediators will ask parties in the mediation to evaluate their best case and worst case scenarios in terms of what they are looking for from the process. Furthermore, the parties will have to evaluate their needs versus their wants. What is really important to them personally in terms of seeking to resolve the dispute. For many people sitting across the table from somebody you are having a dispute with is very hard work. Mediation makes the process easier. The collective group dynamic of mediation allows parties to remove the fear of confrontation and open up new communication channels. The positive psychology behind mediation provides a new and valuable alternative to the contentious court litigation model.
Mediation gives a voice to people who ordinarily find it hard to speak in a dispute. The mediator will ensure that each party to a dispute gets a fair say and that the other side cannot shout down speaker down. It is about fair and frank comment. It is about exploring alternatives. It is about asking hard questions. The process is also about speaking to the other side in a respectful and constructive manner.
At Family Mediation Ireland we believe in allowing people to have their say in a positive and constructive environment. We do not believe in wrapping the parties in bubblewrap. Sometimes hard questions have to be asked. But we believe in creating a constructive environment that allows both sides to a dispute to find new common ground and paths of communication.
The opening statement in a mediation is a crucial point for parties. It is often the first time that the parties will have a chance to tell each other what the real problem is. Disputes often cloud people’s judgement when they are trying to communicate with the other side and share their feelings or concerns. Most people say a few short sentences to the other side conveying their concerns. It is important that the opening statement is not conveyed in a negative manner. It should focus on issues and should not be used to take pot shots at the other side.
Many mediators have studied the area of Neuro-linguistic programming or (NLP). The area of study seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour. Many different schools of education including mediation use tools and techniques that find their origin in the area of NLP.
At Family Mediation Ireland we encourage parties to reflect carefully on their opening statement before delivering same. We remind parties to a dispute of the structure and objectives of the mediation process in the first single sessions. Each mediation will have it’s own unique circumstances. However, the tools we use in each dispute remain the same. They are tried and trusted throughout the world.