Mediation is one of the most effective methods of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. To be effective, however, a mediation process requires more than the appointment of a high-profile individual to act as a mediator.
One should recognize the complexity of the environment within which mediators work and that in many instances mediators confront problems and difficulties they may not be able to resolve. Each situation must be approached differently, and ultimately the will of the dispute parties is the determining factor for success. Nevertheless, careful attention to these fundamentals can increase the prospects for a successful process, minimize the potential for mediator error and help generate an environment more conducive to mediation.
While all disputes and conflicts are unique and require specific approaches, there are good practices that may increase the chance of settlements. There are certain mediator behaviors that appear to have a greater potential for positive effects on settlement as well as disputants’ relationships and perceptions of mediation such as;
- Eliciting disputants’ suggestions or solutions
- Giving more attention to disputants’ emotions, relationship, and sources of conflict.
- Working to build trust and rapport, expressing empathy or praising the disputants, and structuring the agenda,
- Using pre-mediation gatherings focused on establishing trust.
The success of the mediaton process also depends on factors such as; preparedness, impartiality, inclusivity, law and normative frameworks, coherence, coordination, complementarity of the mediation effort, and quality of settlements.