Qualities of a Professional Mediator

Qualities of a Professional Mediator - Dr Jonathan Toussaint
August 10, 2017 Mediation

Qualities of a Professional Mediator -

Are you looking for a mediator to help you resolve a particular conflict or settle a discussion? For cases from the family and community areas to business and commercial settings, a professional mediator is qualified to help parties reach a suitable compromise.

In Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), a mediator or other impartial third-party professional helps parties resolve issues without the need for judicial determination. The informal process allows parties to comprehensively examine their problems and create solutions.

Trust a professional mediator to help you handle issues

A variety of methods are used to identify and resolve a conflict, and these methods require a particular skill set. As such, looking for a mediator isn’t the same as looking at the credentials of a lawyer. A professional mediator has distinct qualities and skills related to negotiation theory and conflict management.

In Australia, there is currently no comprehensive, uniform legislation governing the operation of ADR, though different jurisdictions have their own laws on operation. Knowing the qualities of a professional mediator can help you choose the right private practice.

Here are some of the qualities of a professional mediator:

A professional mediator has the skills to build the right atmosphere.

Certain conflicts can be unavoidable. Family conflicts and the breakdown of marriages, for example, are sometimes the inevitable endpoint of a relationship. However, the emotional and financial costs to the dissolution can be mitigated. This is the mindset that a professional mediator encourages.

A professional mediator helps families and other conflicted parties stay in control of the discussion in order to resolve the issue respectfully. It’s not a matter of who ‘wins’ the conflict, but rather, what both parties can gain from it in a peaceful way.

Similarly, professional mediators working in workplace conflict cases create an atmosphere where the end goal is to improve productivity, work outcomes, and employee morale.

Why a mediator must set the right atmosphere.

The right atmosphere allows parties to examine the different aspects of the case in a way that is constructive and compromise-oriented. In this manner, the parties can more easily create and agree upon an outcome that can maximise benefits for each other.

This is a quality that is difficult to quantify in professional mediators, but it is integral to making alternative dispute resolution processes work.

If you are looking for a professional mediator with this constructive quality, a preliminary interview and an assessment of their success rate or experience can serve as good points of judgment.

professional mediator qualities

A professional mediator gives control to their clients

Mediation is a process that can be advisory, facilitative, or determinative, but never prescriptive. Professional mediators don’t have the power, or even the right, to make decisions for their clients. They are there to help clients reach a fruitful decision themselves. At most, mediators can give their opinions on the case when solicited.

The mediation process can seem uncertain and confusing for people who have never gone through it before. Professional mediators can employ a variety of techniques to make clients confront the issue. The mediator can ask uncomfortable or easily forgotten questions, make you and your client reassess the goals, and so on. These reality checks help clarify expectations and redefine objectives as the parties move to a resolution.

What happens during mediation?

Throughout these processes, a professional mediator is there to ask, but not to answer. By probing for answers, clients are often able to recognise barriers to the discussion they would have otherwise ignored.

These barriers include emotional blocks (such as anger or low risk-tolerance) and financial blocks (such as the need for cash, or inability to manage legal costs). Thorough reassessment sometimes encourages clients to take forward-looking deals instead of settling for a minimum.

With professional mediation, clients feel more in control of the decision they or their lawyers make. As a result, they also arrive at more meaningful and satisfying outcomes.

A professional mediator does not act as a lawyer or a judge nor does he treat others like litigants

Many people assume that being a former judge or a lawyer makes a person a good professional mediator. However, the skill sets of a lawyer or judge are not transferable. A professional mediator requires an entirely different set of skills in order to help resolve conflicts outside of the court.

A professional mediator is able to skilfully and subtly navigate conversations with their clients to refine expectations and come to a willingness to negotiate. Unlike judges who assess whether a case has value, or unlike lawyers who are there to evaluate the technical aspects of a case, mediators are meant to facilitate the decision-making of the parties. It has nothing to do with being a good lawyer.

How mediators differ from lawyers

Lawyers are also trained to proceed with value-claiming or distributive discussion. This is not the same as the integrative and value-creating negotiation process espoused through professional mediation.

What professional mediators do, instead, is to help clients assess the case evaluation of their litigating lawyers, through emotional, logical, and practical lenses. The process involves conflict behaviour, negotiating framework theory, communication and conflict management skills, and an understanding of ethics.

Contact a professional mediator today

A professional mediator should be able to encourage a goal-oriented atmosphere. They must be able to facilitate and not overpower the discussion headed by the client. They  should help arrive at an integrative and value-adding resolution to the conflict.

If you are interested to know how a professional mediator can help you, contact Dr John Toussaint today.

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