Mediation Philosophy: How I Practice Mediation
There is much discussion in the mediation field about the variety of mediation styles. You will hear the terms facilitative, elicitive, transformative, directive, and evaluative. The boundaries amongst these approaches are not fixed or clear and often a mediator will use a mix of these styles, depending on the situation and the needs and desires of the parties.
Generally, I would first describe my approach as facilitative. My goal is to help the parties find their way through the thicket of the conflict to the open meadow of resolution by facilitating effective and constructive communication. I sometimes use the term activist mediator because I engage actively with the parties in their problem-solving. I support all of the parties equally so, beyond being impartial, I consider myself “multi-partial,” actively helping all the parties engage in the process effectively. I believe that an important aspect of a mediator’s work is education, providing information or helping parties access information that will help them achieve their goals and resolution to the problems that brought them to mediation.
My practice can include approaches that would be described as transformative. There is a continuum from basic dispute settlement to relationship transformation. Sometimes parties just want to settle the matter. Sometimes they will want to transform their relationship and use mediation to accomplish profound personal and relationship change. In this regard, I follow the parties’ preferences. I consider it my job to support the parties in what they want to achieve. My approach will vary according to their goals.
When working with an organization, whether to mediate a particular dispute, to facilitate meetings, or to conduct an assessment and make recommendations for improving its conflict management capacity, here are some fundamentals underlying how I will work with you: