10. After I open the session by discussing how I mediate, you decide whether my approach can be of use.
I mean it when I say mediation is voluntary. I am there to support you in having a conversation — and that also means I will support your decision to end the conversation should you make that decision at any point.
9. You decide what to talk about.
I neither make you include nor exclude anything from your conversation.
8. You decide how to have the conversation.
I impose no guidelines for you about how to talk together. You know what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for you in the past, and you’ll decide together how to have the conversation in mediation.
7. I have only one rule for the mediation and that’s for myself — I keep everything you say confidential (except for information about an actual or potential threat to human life or safety).
I’m not an enforcer of behaviour standards — My sole duty is to support the type and substance of conversation you decide to have.
6. I will not reframe anything you say, no matter how bitter, negative or emotional someone else may think it is.
The mediation is your conversation, not mine — I believe that you know what you want to say and how you want to say it, and will support your decisions on these matters, rather than force my interpretations on you as more ‘constructive’ or ‘rational’. I will not make any judgments about you.
5. I will not try to ‘vent your feelings’ — get them out of the way so that you can talk about the ‘facts’.
Feelings are ‘facts’ in the conversation itself — if you decide to express them, I will follow you there and support you.
4. I will not stop you from talking about the past.
I will focus on your conversation in the mediation room — on your interaction with the other person in the ‘here and now’. If you decide to raise or refer to the past, I will follow you there and support you.
3. My goal is not to show you the way to settle your differences.
You decide whether or not you will settle, and if so, what that settlement will look like. There are outcomes to mediation other than settlement that participants have found of value, such as greater insight into what truly matters for them and why it matters, clearer understanding of their goals, resources and options, and a better understanding of where the other person has been and is coming from.
2. I don’t offer expert advice or information in law, child development, financial management etc.
This means that I can focus entirely on the movement and structure of the conversation you decide to have while it’s taking place, without bringing in information that inevitably (perhaps subtly) will lead you in one direction or another. The promise that mediation holds out to you is the space to make your own decisions, free from expert guidance, if that is what you wish. If you do identify gaps in the information you have that you decide you need to fill, I will provide you, if you wish, with referrals to experts in those areas. And, of course, if you do want someone to make some decisions for you, there are plenty of mechanisms available, ranging from other approaches to mediation, to arbitration and litigation, none of which I offer.
1. My goal is not to end your conflict for you — rather to support you in “turning conflict into conversation”.
This isn’t a catch-phrase — it’s about helping you find ways to better deal with conflict, your current dispute and any conflicts you may experience in the future. I work towards this goal by focusing on the movement and structure of conversation you have in mediation in ways that support your becoming clearer about your situation and your decisions about how to handle it. Research into the US Postal Service’s REDRESS© program has led to a better understanding of the ‘upstream’ effects into future conflicts that this type of support can have.