What is Mediation?
Mediation is a facilitated discussion where the parties typically sit around a table and discuss their issues with the help of a trained facilitator. There are many styles of mediation including: interest based, evaluative, transformative and the like. It is important to ask your mediator which style is to be used in your mediation.
Mediation is a dispute resolution process that encourages participants to let go of their “positions” which are typically the outcomes that each participant is seeking. The mediation process assists participants to uncover their “needs” through a non-adversarial process. By uncovering “needs” the participants are better able to look at options that would work for all participants.
When preservation of the relationship is an important factor for you, mediation is a good first option. Dispute resolution through the courts or through arbitration will not address the relationship issues and will often times destroy or cause a dramatic deterioration of the relationship due to the highly adversarial nature of both processes. It is important to remember that a failed mediation does not rob you of the opportunity to later proceed with arbitration or through the courts.
A perfect example of how mediation works is to examine a dispute about where to go on vacation. Rather than fight all day about which of Mexico or Europe would provide a better vacation and then compromise on an outcome, participants are each asked to describe what elements make up a great vacation from each of their perspectives. These “elements”’ are often called “needs” or “interests” of the participants. “Relaxation, sand between my toes or the spanish influence” may be examples of elements which attract one participant to look forward to a Mexican vacation while “fast paced, in a different country every day, and rich history” may attract another participant to Europe. The mediation process helps the participants identify each of these“needs” or “elements” and creates an opportunity for participants to share those needs as well as the importance of those needs with the other participant(s). The mediation process then enables the participants to find the perfect vacation spot for all participants by having the participants identify vacation spots that encompass all participants’ needs. A great vacation is simply a mediation away; compromise is not part of the plan!
Why try Mediation?
Imagine if you could resolve your issues without the necessity of going to Court? Think about how much money and time you could save; think about the satisfaction you may experience knowing that you yourself resolved your own issue (s). Mediation is the only process that permits you to tell your story, in your own words and without edification.
Choosing a Mediator
The skills used by a mediator in the course of mediation are essential to a successful mediation. A mediator will use skills such as the use of open ended questions, re-framing, paraphrasing, summarizing and immediacy to assist the parties through the mediation process. One should not underestimate the value of a well trained mediator. A mediator should possess the necessary education, background and experience to bring essential skills to the mediation process. A certificate in conflict management is a good sign that the mediator has had the educational background you may be seeking.
Mediators can apply for designations such as Chartered Mediator from provincial or national not for profit organizations. There is no guarantee that a Chartered Mediator in Canada has the necessary education, background and experience you may be seeking; it is essential that you secure that specific information from the proposed mediator before retaining them. It is not sufficient for you to rely upon a mediator’s designation as there is no provincial or federal legislation in Canada creating standards associated with these designations.
Our lead Mediator is Michelle Simpson and she holds a Certificate in Conflict Management and is a Chartered Mediator, qualified to mediate anywhere in the world. Michelle Simpson has been a lawyer in the Province of Alberta since 1982 and has extensive experience in the areas of business (both in Canada and internationally), construction issues, sport, and workplace issues.