The following guidelines will support you in being effective in mediation.
- Recognize the futility of arguing. Each mediation participant will have opinions, beliefs and perspectives. Nothing you say in mediation will likely alter the other participant's opinions, beliefs and perspectives. Remember, truth is like a crooked mirror, which wavers depending on where you stand. What may be empowering to you in mediation is to discover the perspective of the other participant. By listening carefully to the statements of others in mediation, you may discover the key to getting the case settled. It is by discovering the needs of other participants that you can fashion settlement offers that may be appealing to the other participant.
- Speak only for yourself. You only really know what is true for you. You may assume you know what is true for someone else. You may be correct or you may be incorrect. To be effective, allow each party to speak for themselves. You may discover that your assumptions about the other participant are incorrect.
- Avoid language that is critical, judgmental, accusatory, blaming, sarcastic, or inflammatory. Although you may feel justified in blaming and judging the other participant, you will likely damage the negotiation process by doing so. Whatever satisfaction you derive from pointing a finger at the other participant, the result is that a finger will be pointed back at you. You will likely get back what you give in the mediation. Be effective. Don't damage the prospects of a productive negotiation. If you need to speak critically of the other party, communicate your concerns to the mediator privately.
- Take responsibility for your feelings, your needs and your choices. Holding the other person responsible for how you feel, what you need and what you choose serves only to make you dependent on the other person. Take responsibility for your feeling, needs and choices--Take control of your life.
- Know that you can say NO. Mediation is a voluntary process. No amount of force will be used to create an outcome over the objection of a participant. That will only happen in court. Each participant is empowered to control the outcome of the mediation by having the right to say "no" to anything that is not acceptable.
- Be effective. Measure the value of anything you do by asking yourself whether it is effective in advancing your goals. Emotions may compel you to show your anger, hurt, pain, distrust or contempt for the other participant. Be mindful of how effective such conduct will be in achieving your goals.
The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the heart and souls of those committed to it. It gives them self respect. It calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know that they had. Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.
Martin Luther King
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