What is a Successful Mediation?
It was a Sunday afternoon when the Chairman of the Conciliation and ArbitrationBoard (CAB) phoned Jayden, one of the members of CAB and a trained Mediator. TheChairman explained to Jayden that there was a couple with two young children that was going through a difficult marriage and that the parties were seeking CAB’s help to pursue a divorce. Jayden who himself was married and had a beautiful 2-year-old daughter always felt sad and upset at such news; but given the responsibility to mediate cases, he always prayed to God for three things: for strength, so that he may handle the case with love, devotion, patience, respect and humility; for forgiveness in the event he doesn’t do a great job in mediating the case; and lastly thank God for a successful mediation. It is Jayden’s nature to attract success, and he believes that “Gratitude creates Magic”.
As a trained CAB Mediator, Jayden believes that a mediation is successful if the following has taken place:
- Voluntary Participation: Mediation is a voluntary process and parties voluntarily enter mediation (they don’t arrive feeling they have been ‘told to attend’) and didn’t have any major misconceptions about mediation when they first met the mediator. The case was appropriate for mediation in that there were no concurrent formal (legal) processes going on; the right parties were involved; and the dispute was within their power to resolve;
- Confidentiality throughout the process: A successful mediation is one where, not only the mediator but also the parties have maintained confidentiality throughout the process. Confidentiality is a confidence booster and helps in creating rapport amongst the parties;
- Decision makers participate: the decision makers are those who have either brought the dispute to mediation and or those who have claims against each other;
- Important documents are available: it is prudent for parties to carry with them any documents and information that they wish to rely upon during the course of mediation;
- Parties are treating each other with respect: respect for each other is a fundamental principle for a mediation to work. Respect needs to be shown in instances such as speaking in turns, arriving on time, allowing the parties a cooling off period, etc.;
- Parties acknowledge their fears, needs, concerns and are willing to discuss/share their personal & or commercial interests: usually parties come with their claims and what they think their right is, but a good mediator will always help them see what their interests are and help them direct their energy towards their interests as opposed to their current positions;
- Managing emotions: In the beginning parties to a mediation are generally angry, have an ego and have many emotions due to being hurt, cheated, deceived, upset, sometimes abused and many other underlying factors. A good mediator manages those emotions and helps parties deal with them in a positive manner to channel those emotions towards solutions;
- The Process is explained well and that the parties are participating in the process to develop solutions: Mediation is a process, and it is very important for a mediator to explain that process and to guide the parties throughout the process. The parties agreed to meet, understood what they were there to do, and agreed to and did abide by the confidentiality requirements. They took ownership of what they had to say, were open and honest, direct with each other, and stated what they needed rather than what they thought about the other ‘side’. They moved from positions, through interests, to needs;
- Impartiality, Unbiased and Non–Judgmental: For a mediation to be successful, the mediator has to be impartial, not taking sides or advocating for one against the other and avoids making assumptions or being judgmental;
- Patience: Mediation involves change. Parties in a dispute typically believe they are right(and mostly right) about the dispute. Each side may or may not understand their own interests and those of the other party, and each may have unrealistic expectations. Each party may be unwilling to treat the other with any degree of respect. It takes time to address these issues, and it takes time for people to change their minds. It is important for parties in mediation to allow time for these changes to occur;
- Focused on problem solving: For a mediation to be a success, the parties have to be focused on solving the dispute and a good mediator does this best by facilitating and encouraging dialogue; creating a friendly environment; assuring and reassuring confidentiality; and conducts a reality check to move parties from their past & present to the future; and
- Settlement Agreement: A mediation is not binding unless parties agree to put everything in writing and that a settlement agreement is drafted and signed by all parties. This marks the end of a mediation and hopefully a beginning to a rejuvenated relationship that had troubles/challenges in the past or towards a peaceful and harmonious end to a relationship leaving parties with a light heart, gratitude, love, respect and humility for each other.
In a nutshell, a Successful Mediation is one that leaves parties feeling good that they were fairly treated by the mediator. They perhaps felt or demonstrated a sense of relief
and clarity of mind and their future. They felt more trusting of each other at the end than they did at the beginning and the mediator did not impose conditions on them, or get frustrated at not being able to. The parties came up with the ideas and a mutually beneficial outcome, and recognized the strengths in what they were agreeing to. In this situation, Jayden was successful in mediating this divorce case and enabled the parties to come to an understanding by applying the mediation principles set-out above. If used effectively, mediation is a powerful tool in resolving disputes provided parties participate in good-faith with the aim of solving problems.
Information contained in this article has primarily been sourced from the mediation training materials prepared by ICAB.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or wish to have more information on a particular subject, please feel free to contact any CAB member. Our contact information has been placed on all Jamatkhana notice boards.