Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards 2022

Lawyer Monthly Legal Awards 2022 • The mediator can describe their capability and expertise in sufficient detail to engender the necessary trust and confidence in the participant. • The mediator can signpost the mediation process to a receptive participant. • The participant has an interval of two days before the individual meeting. This enables them to process their feelings and perspective of the matters that will be subject to the mediation. • This ‘distillation period ‘is essential to enabling the participants to be able to access and speak of the deep seated core issues, rather than on a superficial level. • The feedback from participants at the end of the individual meeting is that we have truly established their interests, rather than positions. They confirm that this would not have happened without the ‘icebreaker’ and the ‘distillation period’. In what ways has the way you work developed since you began to practice dispute resolution? I have made a conscious choice to avoid offering online mediation for several reasons. • Confidentiality of the process cannot be guaranteed. • Authentic engagement of the participants with the process is difficult to ascertain. • Online mediation has an element of convenience outweighing significance of the process. • The key ingredients of active listening and awareness of non verbal communication are heavily compromised. • The pandemic, with the associated lockdowns and working from home, has created antipathy to online meetings. • The essential positive outcome of formerly conflicted participants working together in the same room to develop a sustainable future relationship is not achievable by online mediation. Perhaps the biggest change in the way I mediate is that I no longer prepare an interview strategy – that is, creating lists of questions that I feel will assist in my developing understanding of the perspective of individual participants. This led to a confusion of concentration akin to how many of us converse with others. That is, we listen to what another person has to say, wait for a gap, and then introduce our comments. These may be irrelevant to what the other has said. It breaks the potential of rapport and does not promote authentic understanding between us. Instead, I practise actively listening to every word that is said by a participant. Every inflection and every syllable – how it is said as much as what is said – provides me with the ability to ask relevant questions. I can confidently (in my mind) clarify what has been said and appropriately seek further clarification in a non-intrusive manner, without taking cues from behaviours. This enables me to ascertain the core issues of their interests at a deep level, rather than a superficiality of position. Interestingly, I can also be more aware of what has not been said. I have also developed a draft of ground rules for the joint meeting. The purpose is to ensure an environment of respectful listening at the joint meeting, the most stressful stage of the process for participants. I share these with each participant at the conclusion of the individual meeting and invite the individual participants to question the validity or necessity of each rule, and to suggest additions that will create the necessary safe space for them at the joint meeting. I now have a contingency in place in case of a derailer postmediation. I conduct a review of the process after three months to confirm the reality for participants. I also confirm root causes of conflict within the organisation. The intelligence is then shared with the client for action. What motivates you to achieve success for your clients? When I was a leader in the police, I saw it as a key responsibility to know colleagues, including members of my teams or departments, as people. At work we perform a role. It does not define the person. No one comes to work to have a bad day. The impact on our personal lives is considerable. The participants that I see are often traumatised by the “Mediation offers participants the opportunity to mend fractured relationships and redesign them for themselves, working cooperatively towards a sustainable, positive future.” 93 UNITED KINGDOM

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