Mediation is the involvement of an impartial third party to support and help those involved in a conflict to find a resolution. The key difference between negotiation and mediation is that in negotiation, the parties involved work out their own agreement. In mediation, they have the support of the third party, the mediator, to help them come to an agreement. The mediator needs to possess certain skills in order to hold effective mediations. Some of the important skills of the mediator could be:
1. Active listening skills;
2. Questioning and clarifying skills to grasp both the facts and the areas of controversy;
3. Emotional intelligence to understand the underlying emotions.
4. Summarising skills to set out the main points of controversy, and underlying emotions, and also to help the participants to re-frame issues in less emotive language. See our pages on Communicating in Difficult Situations and Giving and Receiving Feedback for more.
5. Empathy to help each party to stand in each others shoes and understand each others point of view.
Perhaps most importantly, a mediator must not take sides, or be seen to be acting unfairly. You will therefore need to acknowledge points made by both parties, and spend equal time with each person or on their issues. Its never going to help to point out that someone is being unreasonable, but you can help them take a reality check by asking what they would consider a reasonable outcome, and then asking whether they think the other party would agree.
VIA provides a training programme for mediation advocacy to help acquire the necessary skills. The twelve hour certificate programme in arbitration is conducted by eminent arbitrators and a forty hour certificate programme for mediation is conducted by eminent resource persons in mediation. On completion of the forty hour programme, a completion certificate will be issued.
The completion certificate shall not however entitle a person to practice as a mediator, unless and until he co-mediates or mediates ten disputes under VIA. On completion of ten successful mediations, a certificate of practice will be given strictly on merits. Certificate to practice mediation will also be offered to those who undertake to participate in a strict evaluation programme under observation of expert mediators.
VIAs training programme shall include training of retired judges, senior advocates, advocates, and experts. The training programme shall also include organizing training programmes for various sectors such as corporate, so as to make them conversant with the concept of mediation and arbitration.