How to Mediate

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Mediation is when one person acts to settle problems between two other people or groups.  This could be a big deal, or a minor arguement.  It is best done quickly to prevent larger problems arising.  You may be an employer dealing with two employees, or you may be a person dealing with issues between two co-workers.  You might be a parent or baby sitter dealing with siblings or friends.  There will me many times in a persons live where they may be needed to act as a mediator either in the formal sense of the word, or just for quick conflict resolution.

1.  Speed.  If a problem comes up, deal with it immediately.

2.  Do Not Pick Sides.  Even if it is obvious who is right, and who is wrong, you have to appear impartial and fair.  Picking sides is not something a good mediator does.

3.  Do Not Raise Your Voice.  Yelling only makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

4. Listen and Let Both Sides Speak.  Do not allow either to interupt the other, or bully. 

5.  Make Notes (either mentally or on paper if it is a more formal mediation), about key points, and especially note if one person has contradicted themselves in an effort to cover their tracks.

6.  Find Reason to Agree.  At times both sides will make good points.  At the very least make it clear to them that you “Understand” their view, but do not say early on if you disagree with it.

7.  Let Them Vent.  Sometimes that is all that needs to be done, and once it is done, it will help to move things along.

8. But, Don’t Let Them Yell.  People should remain factual and unemotional, they can say they have had their feelings hurt, but yelling should not be allowed.  You can say things like “hold on there, please don’t yell”.

9.  Sympathize.  Both sides have their feelings hurt or they wouldn’t be angry.  Find a way to show each side you sympathize. 

10.  Resolve.  Chances are both parties are partially right, and partially wrong.  It is all in view and perception.  Make sure you find a way of showing what was RIGHT in both sides cases before pointing out what was WRONG.  Try to find mutual ground, hopefully by being sympathetic to each side they trust you enough to show sympathy to the other side too.  Other specifics are impossible to get into because each situation is unique.  By remaining fair, calm,and impartial you hopefully will settle the problem to a point where both parties are able to come to the middle and find resolve.  If one side is totally wrong, you can say so, “I think you are wrong in this instance, but I can see what happened,and understand why you did what you did.”  This validates them, as well as shows that they were wrong.

Good Luck


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