There are a variety of specialties that fall under the umbrella of mediation services. Some of them are topical and address a specific field, such as healthcare; others are tools that are used by mediators in the course of their work, such as neutral evaluations. This article takes a brief look at the types of mediation services available.
Mediation is defined as a process where a neutral third party helps people work through a conflict and find an appropriate solution that serves everyone’s needs. A mediator is the facilitator of the dialogue and helps both sides discuss difficult subjects and make decisions about issues of concern.
In mediation, a neutral third party is brought in to help the disputing parties come to a resolution. The advantage of an outside mediator is that they don’t have a point of view. A mediator comes in with a fresh perspective, akin to a blank canvas. Sometimes an organizational leader or human resources professional is able to resolve the conflict, but they are not truly neutral and may not be able to gain the trust of each party. It is best to engage a mediator early before the conflict festers and people’s viewpoints become entrenched. If a manager or executive feels that tensions are worsening or the environment has become hostile, a mediator may be necessary to begin the conflict resolution process.
Mediation has become very common in the business world. Frequently, it is used in family cases and a variety of civil litigation matters. It is particularly well suited to estate and probate situations where family dynamics and miscommunication are often the root of the problem. A common example is siblings who mistrust one another or who feel that a parent’s finances were handled inappropriately. Often there is a lack of communication that is contributing to the conflict and making it worse for all parties involved. Mediation can help families return to a common ground and resolve these disputes without resorting to expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Facilitation is a tool used by many mediators to guide and manage the conflict resolution process. Facilitation can be used for group conflicts, strategic planning meetings, staff or employee retreats, team building events, public policy projects, and policy decisions – just to name a few.
A professional facilitator designs, guides and manages the meeting or event process, allowing leaders and other participants to focus on their mission rather than a schedule. Facilitating involves conducting a thorough convening process to determine client needs, project objectives and desired outcomes. Specifically, facilitators work with the meeting sponsor to identify stakeholders, design an agenda, develop ground rules, and set meeting goals. Additionally, they help determine how decisions will be made if that is the desired outcome, and they create a method for establishing the group memory if necessary.
A neutral evaluation is a tool used to provide a candid, impartial assessment of an individual, a situation, or an allegation or conflict. These kinds of evaluations are most frequently performed in a workplace to assist managers or executives gain insight into a conflict and work to resolve it. This tool can be particularly helpful if a situation is sensitive due to the issues or parties involved, and a neutral third party is able to impartially interview employees and prepare findings.
If any of the above services describes a conflict you’d like to resolve, contact a professional for more information.
Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. She is one of eight Maryland mediators featured on a statewide demonstration video of good mediation practice. Ellen is certified by the International Mediation Institute. She provides mediation, group facilitation and training to diverse clients in Washington, DC and the US. Get in touch with her via email, and follow her on LinkedIn, and Twitter.