Mediation: what are good preperations before you start to mediate?

As a mediator you can not actively gauge what will happen during the mediation. Therefore, your preparation for this will be limited. This article therefore discusses certain elements pertaining to mediation that you can prepare in advance. A good preparation will certainly help you face the unexpected twists that a mediation will certainly bring.

Why prepare mediation?

Often mediators have very specific questions about certain situations. For instance they wonder: How do you mediate a case where parents are divorcing. Or, how do you mediate in a situation where there is a misbalance in power (see our other articles). These are all important questions. However, it is also important to take a look at the process that takes prior to the mediation.

Mindset

Being a mediator can be mentally taxing. Make sure to prepare yourself beforehand. Maybe you’ve had a stressful day or maybe you just had a minor conflict with the taxi driver an hour ago. All of this must be left behind once the mediation starts. So make sure to take thirty minutes or so to become calm and mentally prepare yourself.

Setting

The physical setting in which you mediate are a major point of preparation. Will you use a table? How will you seat your parties? Which way will they face? These are points that can be face in your preparation and can steer a mediation in a certain direction. For instance, if a conflict is very heated then have parties directly face each other will most likely result in a greater escalation.

Study the people not the case

Take your time to study the parties involved. Some mediators make the mistake of over-preparing the legal issues and legislation involved. Often they forget that legal issues have very human emotions behind them. Make sure to stay receptive for these human emotions. Therefore, in your preparation, try and study the people involved in the conflict and not the legal arguments present in the case.

Concluding

Of course there are far more points of preparation that mediators favor. A simple article can impossibly address them all. The point of this article is to drive home the point that a question as “how do you mediate case x” or “how do you mediate in a give situation” is not always the right question to ask. If, as a mediator, you have such a question, maybe a question to start off with is: “how did this situation occur and what can I do in future preparations to mitigate the chance of this happening?”.

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