Category Archives: workplace mediation

Opening statements by the mediator

It’s important in the mediation process, irrespective of the model, for the mediator to explain how she works in an opening statement. There are two reasons for this: participants have a right to know what to expect from the mediator and how the process will unfold; and, participants have a right to make an informed decision on whether the process will be helpful to them.

In the transformative framework, we believe that the opening statement says it all. The mediator opens a session by outlining the process as a conversation between the participants that is completely controlled by them. She also explains how she will support the participants in their conversation, in their deliberation about what they’re hearing in the conversation, and in their decisions. Then it becomes all the more essential that the mediator act in a manner entirely consistent with her explanation.

In the video below, [Editor: The video is being updated and will be replaced shortly.]  highly proficient Quebec mediator, John Peter Weldon, explains what the process will be like in a workplace setting. Note his conversational approach, his emphasis on participant control of the process, how he will support them equally in gaining clarity about the situation and about what they hear in the conversation:

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What does on-line transformative mediation look like?

Giuseppe Leone

Giuseppe Leone is a mediator based in Hawaii who founded the virtualmediationlab.com, a pilot project sponsored by the Hawaii chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution.  The project’s objectives are to help mediators wherever they are located to practise and develop their skills, and to learn how to mediate on-line using Skype™as a platform.

In the video of a role play below, Dan Simon, a certified Transformative Mediator™, supports people in their conversation about alleged gender discrimination in the workplace.  The role play itself runs for the first 47 minutes or so; the rest of the recording is devoted to a debrief led by Giuseppe of what happened in the mediation, how it was experienced by the role players, and where the main differences lie between the transformative model and the prevalent interest-based model:

Does Transformative Mediation ‘work’ in the Workplace?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ backed by evidence from scientific research:

The United States Postal Service chose transformative mediation REDRESS for the national model…  Since USPS implemented the mediation program, formal complaints of discrimination have dropped from a high of about 14,000 a year to under 10,000 a year. A statistical analysis demonstrated that the turning point in this trend and subsequent drop in formal complaints correlated with implementation of the program in each geographic district.  In other words, it is fair to conclude that the program caused the drop in complaint filings. This trend suggests that mediation has a positive impact in that these complaints are resolved through mediation at the informal complaint stage and do not reach the formal complaint stage; hence, there is a drop in formal complaint filings…

The participants in mediation may be learning conflict management skills to take back to the workplace. There is evidence of this ‘upstream effect’ from mediation.  Controlling for changes in the size of the workforce, informal EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity] complaint filings have dropped 30 percent since their peak before USPS implemented REDRESS.  There is also evidence of changes in the way that supervisors describe how they handle conflict at the workplace after REDRESS. There are reports of more listening, more openness to expressions of emotion, and less top-down hierarchical response to conflict. Finally, there has been a gradual increase in efforts by the parties to a dispute to resolve it after a request for mediation is made, but before they get to the table.    This too is evidence that conflict management skills are moving upstream.

Bingham, L.B. (2010). Mediation at work: transforming the USPS. In Folger, J., R.A.B. Bush,  D. Della Noce (Ed.), Transformative mediation: A sourcebook (pp. 321-337). New York: Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation; Association for Conflict Resolution.

So, where’s the evidence for other approaches to the mediation process?

Spirituality & Mediation

In this mediate.com video, Zena Zumeta says that family and work are at the heart of who we are as people.  She goes on to stress the importance of working with the process and letting go of outcome.  I couldn’t agree more with both of these sentiments.  For my purposes, I understand working the process to mean supporting the parties in having the conversation they want to have and in how they want to have it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Zena Zumeta: Spiritual Side to Mediat…“, posted with vodpod

Mediate.com Recognized for Excellence as Problem Solver

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that mediate.com is the recipient of its 2010 Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.

In granting this prestigious award, the ABA stated:

Mediate.com has been at the forefront of making the power of the Internet accessible to lawyers, mediators and dispute resolution practitioners. Mediate.com has been developing digital products and resources that have advanced the presence and depth of the field of dispute resolution in immeasurable ways and fundamentally altered the practice of mediation by making online strategies practical and available.

Mediate.com offers the field one of the most used information resources, replete with blogs, cutting edge articles, news of mediation and negotiation practice, as well as a place for interactive dialogue. The website is a practical tool for practitioners and helps them become more effective problem solvers.

“Mediate.com applies the technology of the internet directly to lawyers and dispute resolution practitioners. The founders of Mediate.com had the foresight to see the importance and applications of the Internet and bring them to bear on a developing field of practice. This groundbreaking website has given tools and resources to the public and to ADR professionals to do their own problem solving in virtually every field of law.

Hear, hear!

Acting like the Boss

I’ve just come across an interesting post on bosses published a couple of weeks ago at the blog, Weird Things.

A study by social psychologists at the University of California not only confirms the axiom that talking like a leader makes you seem like one in people’s eyes, but proves that the more dominating your personality, the easier it is to get away with incompetence. By taking a group of people and presenting them with challenges, the researchers tried to evaluate what makes someone a leader. The study’s participants generally tended to assign leadership roles and favorable ratings to people who spoke the most and seemed the most confident with little regard for the quality of their answers and suggestions.

When solving math problems from an old GMAT test, the same highly thought of leaders were the ones who gave the most answers, not the ones who gave the right answers. . .Participants gave any person who spoke up a higher rating than those who were quiet, even if these people said little or nothing of substance. [. . .] Continue reading