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MEDIATION JOURNAL


Mediation Training,


This a common sentiment heard by mediators and no doubt by HR professionals, and one that can be most frustrating. If the perception is that: “mediation is just about getting two people in a room and banging their heads together”, then no wonder they ask why it is necessary to undertake training in it


- especially when


that training can cost thousands of pounds. Mediation is a relatively new form of dispute resolution (in contrast with the traditional forms such as litigation or tribunals), and so comes with it many misperceptions.


The skills may, to some extent, seem obvious - active listening, reflecting back, empathising and not judging. But getting someone to shift their position from: “I’m perfectly right and I don’t understand why that’s an issue” to: “Maybe I could have done things differently” – or even “Maybe it is actually my fault” – is not easy. A mediator who is not fully and properly trained will find it difficult to get parties to shift their position – and in many dispute situations might even do more harm than good. That’s why another common phrase heard is: “My manager tried to mediate between us, but it was a total waste of time!”.


The skills used by mediators, as for example, reframing and reality testing, if done at the wrong time or in the wrong way, can be destructive, and can further enflame and entrench a party’s position. Reframing a negative comment into a positive might seem to some as patronizing, or degrading the gravity of the issue.


Negative Comment: “He never listens to me!” Positive Reframe: “So what you’re saying is you need to be heard.”


When used in the right way, however, it can help to take the toxicity out of a situation; or can be used to encourage the parties to focus on the future.


Similarly, reframing a


positive into a negative can help a party see how it might sound to others.


Positive Comment: “I need him to respect me, particularly amongst the team.” Negative reframe: “So he belittles you in front of your team members.”


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By Hannah Randolph


a Worthy Investment? It’s just a case of talking to them, isn’t it?


If used too early, before a trusting relationship has been created, reality testing can quickly destroy any rapport that the mediator has managed to build.


‘Short’ mediation courses can be useful for managers, employers and employees looking to use those skills on an informal day-to-day basis, to nip conflict in the bud, and to help manage teams. However, if a dispute has escalated to the point where a more formal intervention is needed, then it is important to have an accredited mediator who has undertaken a recognised 40 hour course.


So, if you are considering using someone to ‘mediate’ a workplace conflict, whether an internal member of staff or an external person, it is important to ensure they are adequately trained – =or that you look to provide appropriate accredited training. If not, you are at risk of causing more damage than repair – to the employee, to the organisation, and to the name of mediation.


For details of training providers, please see the directory on pages 47-48.


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