What are the qualities that contribute to being an effective mediator? Recent conversations with people considering careers as mediators, brought me back to this topic.
There is a great deal written about what skills are needed by a mediator to be effective. Those skills are learned in courses which teach mediation, such as the courses offered by Munn Conflict Resolution Services.
If I want to assess the personal traits I need to work as mediator, that subject has not had as much attention by authors.
How do I know if I have what it takes to be a mediator?
After more than 20 years teaching mediation courses and more years as a mediator, here’s my checklist of seven essential mediator traits.
- A mediator needs ability to build genuine rapport with many different people. Without feeling trust people will not open up to reveal what they truly need.
- The mediator adapts to what the people want rather than trying to impose an outcome on them.
- Objectivity and self -control
- The mediator must always remain objective and never jump to the side of one of the disputing people, even in a private conversation with them.
- The mediator must resist any temptation to try to manipulate people.
- The mediator must be able to manage their own emotions. Getting angry right back at them is not effective.
- Tenacity/ Perseverance
- If the mediator were to quit when people say they can’t agree, very few mediations would result in an agreed outcome. There is usually a way around any impasse and the mediator needs to stay focussed on the way forward, not the barriers.
- An organized and confident professional manner is necessary to reassure people that the mediator can help even when the situation is difficult.
- Analytical ability
- The mediator needs to be constantly alert to what is happening with each person in the room, with the overall meeting dynamics, and how the mediator’s intervention is affecting the people.
- Sometimes called intuition, the mediator needs to be able to discern what people need despite what they say and their legal positioning.
- Creativity is the spark that can help people to find new ideas for solutions, and to be willing to keep talking to build those ideas into a practical agreement.
- Patience & Tact
- It takes patience and tact to maintain rapport with people and at the same time be able to help them assess ideas that may be very emotional or challenging.
- Also patience and tact are needed to keep listening and building understanding between people who do not believe it is possible to resolve their situation.
In addition to this list of seven personal qualities, the mediator needs knowledge about the subject area of the mediation at least to the level of understanding the nuances of the conflict.
If you ticked off most of these boxes, consider taking a mediation course. Maybe you have a new direction for your career.
Build your mediation skills in spring 2020!
Register now for the course Fundamentals of Mediation at Munn Conflict Resolution Services in beautiful London, Ontario.
Early Registration Discount ends Friday, February 14!
Course # 1 – Fundamentals of Mediation – March 25, 26, 27, 30 and 31, 2020 – 5 days – 40 hours.
- the ADR Institute of Ontario
- the Law Society of Ontario.