Common Sense Services

"What is mediation?"

This is the question I get asked most frequently in person and online, so I thought it worth giving my take on it here.

Most of my work is focussed on mediation in the workplace with a little community mediation (mediation between neighbours) thrown in. Workplace mediation is the context for this article.

Mediation is a personal, informal, confidential and voluntary way of adressing disagreements, re-setting relationships and resolving disputes.

The fundamental purpose of workplace mediation is to allow people to explore and resolve the issues that lie between them so that they can form or re-form a sound, professional working relationship and return to full productivity quickly.

A typical mediation session will involve three people, a mediator and two people who are living with conflict, tension and/or disagreement. Some mediations can include more than two parties and sometimes more than one mediator may be present but, most of the time it is two plus one.

The mediation  process is normally completed within one working day.

Mediation provides a safe space for people to discuss difficult and sometimes uncomfortable issues.

Mediation isn’t counselling or therapy although the mediator will respond to the needs of each individual to support them through the process in the best way for them. That may sometimes include supporting someone to withdraw from the process part way through if that is what they wish to do.

Mediation is not airy-fairy. It is rooted in the real world, supporting people to find and agree practical steps to improve their working relationship and prevent conflict from escalating in future.

Mediation is no walk in the park. It can be hard work for everyone involved and the day itself is certainly intense and tiring. We advise that participants go straight home following mediation rather than back to the workplace.

It takes courage to agree to mediation, but rewards can be high. In less than a working day people can transform working relationships, reduce daily tension and, perhaps, begin to look forward to going to work once more.

From an employer’s perspective mediation offers a cost -effective way of resolving issues that can and do drag down productivity, erode team morale and increase staff turnover.

If you’d like to discuss how workplace mediation could help in your situation then please get in touch.