Mediation is about resolving conflict or disputes. It’s a practical and informal process where a trained mediator helps people move towards resolution, often after they have tried unsuccessfully to sort things out themselves and feel a bit ‘stuck’.
Mediation encourages people to take responsibility for their actions and words. Mediation is not ‘done’ to people; participants choose to take part on a voluntary basis. Mediation aims to offer people the opportunity to be fully heard, to hear each other’s points of view, to consider all their option, and finally to decide how to resolve their dispute themselves and agree on a way forward.
Mediation also offers people an opportunity to reflect on the causes of conflict and allows them to think about managing future disagreements in a different way.
Mediation aims to be a flexible process that meets individual people’s circumstances and needs. Meetings can take place jointly ‘round the table’ but there are other options available. The important thing is that mediation meetings are private and confidential.
Mediators don’t take sides, judge people or tell them what to do. Instead, mediators encourage people to talk to each other and more importantly to listen to each other. Some mediators think of themselves as a ‘bridge’ between the different sides of a chasm of conflict. Mediators don’t have a vested interest in any possible outcome and they won’t force people to reach an agreement.
Sometimes mediation is described as ‘helping people have a difficult conversation.’