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Effective mediator should have empathy and…P.2

In our previous post, we began speaking about what makes for an effective mediator. As we mentioned, good listening skills, empathy, the ability to communicate well and creativity in problem-solving are all very important qualities for an effective mediator.

In addition to these qualities, it can also be very helpful to work with a mediator who has some more technical knowledge or skills. This includes knowledge not only about the legal system and of the law governing the dispute, but also knowledge of the workings of the industry out of which the dispute arose. 

In mediation, the whole idea is to work toward achieving a mutually acceptable agreement that both parties will be satisfied with for the long haul. Mediation which is unable to address the interests of both parties or which does so only for the sake of overcoming the immediate disagreement over the parties’ respective positions is unlikely to keep parties out of court in the long run. For disputing parties, it can be important to have a solid understanding of the strength of their respective positions from a legal perspective when negotiating terms of an agreement. A mediator who can bring this knowledge to the table can help parties better understand how much bargaining power they have in the process and what the consequences are if they turn to the adversarial process for relief.

Similarly, a mediator who has knowledge of industry workings can bring that knowledge to bear in the negotiation process. Construction disputes, for example, often involve interpretation of contractual provisions and disagreements can arise easily in this area. A mediator who has experience of the construction industry and the way contracts are typically handled can therefore help parties to better understand how the disputed terms compare to industry standards, what parties may have intended where there is ambiguity, and so on. The same goes for labor and employment law disputes, and other industry-specific disputes.

An effective mediator, of course, will ideally be able to combine communication and problem-solving skills, as well as technical knowledge, and those who are seeking out a mediator for their case should be sure to look for each of these sets of qualities.

Source: Huffington Post, “Secrets of a Successful Divorce Mediation,” Alison Patton, April 21, 2015. 

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