How Do You Define Mediator?
The question of how you define mediator and how you define mediation certainly have related answers. In its simplest form the definition of mediator is a person who mediates. That is neither a satisfying or useful answer to the question. First we have a turn our minds to the process of mediation.
Mediation as a process is defined more fully in this previous post. For our purposes, it’s enough to view a mediation as a voluntary, low risk process that is coordinated by someone (a mediator) who is not in conflict and is used by a party in conflict to help resolve it. While it is usually the case that the mediator does not have anything to gain or lose by the outcome this is not always the case (more on that later).
It stands to reason then that a mediator is someone like me, who works with parties in a confidential way to help them find a settlement. Mediators are process experts that may or may not have substantive knowledge about the dispute at hand. A mediator’s job is to facilitate the parties problem solving discussion.
Areas of Mediation
Mediation is facilitated conflict resolution. As such, it happens in many different functional areas. Anything that can be negotiated can be mediated. In Canada specialty areas of mediation have developed:
- Human Rights
- Real Estate
- Insurance/Personal Injury
Check out the full list of Special Interest Sections at the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario website.
As mentioned above, the mediator usually does not have anything riding on the outcome a negotiation. Some conflicts are so large that they escape this possibility because of reputational risk or because of universality. An Ontario based mediator mediating a provincial health care disagreement would have some interest in the outcome. Other conflicts may, at the discretion of the parties, be more conveniently handled by a person who is involved. Examples include a labour council president working to settle a protracted strike or a manager using facilitated negotiations to solve a problem on her team. In both these cases the parties are not totally neutral. The lack of neutrality does not mean mediation can’t happen, but it needs to be attended to throughout the process to ensure the parties to the conflict feel heard.
Looking for a Mediator
Wakely Mediation provides employment mediation, workplace mediation, grievance mediation and collective bargaining mediation. We believe that the mediator needs to tailor the mediation to the specific case and the specific needs of the parties. We aim to create value for all parties to a mediation by fully exploring the needs of everyone involved. If you are interested in learning more about how Wakely Mediation can help you in your dispute, please contact us for more information.
What Do You Think?
Have you worked with a mediator to help resolve a conflict? How do you feel about a manager mediating a conflict? Let me know in the comments.