It was the well-known Christian motivational coach and speaker, Dr Myles Monroe, who said, “When the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable.” This is also true when such purpose is misconstrued. Similarly, abuse is inevitable. And this applies no less to mediation. The concept of mediation has often been misunderstood and, therefore misapplied and mispractised. As a result, not only have many conflicts gone unresolved, but mediation has also become prone to abuse. I will therefore continue to rant and rave about the need to identify what is authentic. For the same reason, I want briefly to highlight in this piece, what authentic mediation is not.
Authentic Mediation Gives Power to the Mediator
This is false. Mediator is there to help parties resolve their disputes. His/her job is to empower the parties, largely by creating an enabling environment for them to find mutually satisfying options and make appropriate choices for resolving their disputes, to preserve their relationship, and move forward with their business. Discussions fail where the individuals in the room lack the authority to make choices. An astute mediator will ascertain that whoever is participating in the mediation has the authority to make the pertinent decisions or, in the alternative, has a direct route to the decision maker.
Authentic Mediation is a Blame Game
Absolutely not. The issue is rarely advanced by pointing fingers. While listening actively and expressing empathy appropriately, the Mediator skillfully discourages violence, hate speech, and blame game. Mediation often includes a review of facts and feelings. However, you never want the evaluation to devolve into a blaming session. Take a look ahead in your conversations: where do you want to be? What can be done to improve the situation if a settlement is reached?
No Space for Emotions in Authentic Mediation
Authentic Mediation is the exact opposite. Emotions are a natural aspect of life. The opportunity to vent may contribute significantly to an eventual mutually satisfying settlement. The practitioner of authentic mediation remembers always that it is not just about the substance of the disagreement; it is also about how others perceive it. You will rarely be able to have a talk about the basic subject in an emotionally heated disagreement without first acknowledging and validating the emotions involved.
Authentic Mediation is All About the Mediator
This is far from the truth. The authentic mediator allows the parties to speak and so also, the representative in mediation (sometimes called the mediation advocate) must allow the client to speak during the mediation process. The mediation process succeeds, partly because it allows the parties to get some things off their chest while also educating each side on the other’s point of view, which may be helpful in settling a disagreement.
Verbal Agreement or Settlement is Enough
No! Anything wholly verbal is never enough. Always put your settlement agreements in writing and allow enough time to discuss throughout this process, to ensure that all issues are properly clarified, as needed, all ambiguity is resolved, and the agreement correctly reflects intend to be bound by.