Mediation processes allow for the identification of individual issues and the exploration of the history of the conflict. Mediation differs from negotiation in that it involves a third party – the mediator – and is usually a more formal process. Mediation is often appropriate when:
- The people involved have failed to negotiate an outcome between themselves.
- Constraints between parties mean that they are unable to communicate effectively.
- A formal grievance process requires an independent facilitator.
Mediation is often conducted in the following way:
- All people involved are invited to attend an interview. (This could also include a mentor or support person.)
- The people being interviewed are given details of the interview in writing in advance.
- The purpose of the interview and the procedure to be followed are clearly explained to all those in attendance.
- All attendees are introduced and their reason for being there is explained.
- The person presenting the problem presents their report or story.
- Time is allowed for the person to express themselves fully without interruption.
- Anyone else involved is given time to present the facts from their perspective.
- The problem/issue/reason for conflict and its severity are clearly defined and agreed upon.
- Options for a possible solution/solutions are identified and discussed.
- Decisions about strategies for solution/s are made and agreed on by all concerned.
- Action required and those responsible are identified, agreed upon and written down so that everyone is clear about the process.
- A date is agreed upon to come back and review the situation, to ensure that the matter has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
Referral to mediation
The crisis stage of conflict can be very complex and may have conflicting and competing issues that need to be dealt with. You may need to invite an independent facilitator to manage the process.
Formal mediation will most likely require a written referral, similar to that required for referring a client on to another service.
Confidentiality must be maintained at all times, and a Release of Information Form signed if required.