When you engage in the Mediation process there are 3 main Methods / Styles of mediation that you can expect a mediator to use, namely “Evaluative”, “Facilitative” & “Concord”. In this short article we are going to briefly look at each style.
Ever increasing interest in the whole area and process of Mediation accentuates the lack of clarity of understanding of what mediation is all about and how it works. Is it – as we have asked before – merely another legalistic layer in the litigation process, at one extreme, or, at the other, a type of counseling of parties to assist them in resolving their dispute. The answer is that, while it can be either, it usually lies between these extremes. Textbooks seek to define Mediation by reference to what is called “Evaluative” on the one hand and “Facilitative” on the other. Such attempts at definition limit the perception and thus the effectiveness and the possibilities of the process. Efforts at definition or codification often have the effect of calcifying rather than clarifying. “Transformative” is another term that people have used to try to give the meaning of what it is all about and have sought to define this in terms that it allows the disputing parties themselves to agree upon a resolution process they design themselves.
At Mediate Ireland we subscribe to all of the processes that might best lead to resolution of disputes in the context of how the particular dispute is presented to us. We do not get involved in debate or argument as to which method is “best” or what is the “right way” (or, the “wrong way”) of mediating. Our philosophy and standards have evolved from in-depth study and from practices that have worked in the past and that we believe to be most effective. It also highlights what we believe the mediation process should do for people, how it can be done and why going through this process is a good idea – this will always be by reference to practices that best fit the clients’ situation and their expectations for dispute resolution. This is called “concord” mediation which comes closest to defining processes that fit with our philosophy and allow full consideration of clients’ situation and expectations.
You want mediation to have the effect of your dispute being resolved quickly, cost-effectively and successfully. “Concord” Mediation seeks to satisfy this need in the context of its philosophy and your situation.
Evaluative Mediation is often thought of as being more “hands on” in terms of the mediator suggesting feasible outcomes and actively trying to bring the parties to a resolution. An unskilled evaluative mediator runs the risk of just telling people what to do and calling it mediation. Mediation must avoid becoming adjudication, arbitration or glorified legal settlement. The draft Mediation & Conciliation Bill, 2010 may have the effect of a perception arising that Mediation will be “forced” because Judges and County Registrars will be able to order it in certain circumstances. This may lead to an idea that there will be a new market around solving disputes; there will – and the new market will need new tools. The old tools used in litigation and legal settlement will not work. Mediation is not adjudication.
The general perception of Facilitative mediation is the Mediator is focused on facilitating the disputing parties in coming to a resolution on their own. However, the fact of someone calling themselves a facilitative mediator doesn’t automatically mean that they are helping someone. Mediation must avoid becoming counseling through over-zealous facilitation. When a mediator perceives a need or desire for counseling as an alternative he or she should immediately discuss and recommend it to the parties and bring the mediation to a conclusion. Mediation is not counseling.
Many models of mediation adopted presuppose that the process is likely to take a number of mediation sessions spread over a period of weeks or months. We do not say that this is right or wrong, in fact on the face of many disputes it would seem to make eminent good sense. However, it can very open-ended and provide parties with an excuse not to seriously face the issues. It is time consuming and, ergo, costly.
Evaluative mediators can at times be guilty of mischaracterizing the work of facilitative mediators and vice versa – there is tremendous worth and value in both approaches and all need to do better at recognizing the value that different styles bring. Concord mediation seeks to emphasise the value or values, from wherever they come that can be matched with the interests of well-informed participants.
Concord Mediation fully subscribes to the fact that the best resolution is one that the parties can easily sign up to in terms of it being “their own” but also recognizes that we have a role in suggesting feasible outcomes and helping parties to consider options that might not otherwise have arisen. Mediate Ireland, adopting the concord approach comes from a position that most disputes, not all, can be resolved in a short period. A single day is our point of reference – but always making due allowance that it may take a bit longer, or even be concluded within a shorter period of hours. Concord Mediation seeks to bring the best practices of the evaluative, facilitative and transformative methods into a structured process that can be complied with and followed throughout such a specific time period. Thus can resolution be achieved very quickly and cost effectively.
The philosophy underpinning concord mediation emphasises key principles of a mediator’s mediation practice standards. These practices are usually ones that have worked in the past and that the mediator believes to be most effective. Such principles include: participant empowerment; confidentiality; effectiveness; neutrality; trust.
They also highlight what the mediator believes the mediation process should do for people, how it can be done and why going through this process is a good idea.
Our key principle is peacemaking: our methods permit the mediator to work with the parties, solicitors and counsel in private confidential settings, which facilitate building rapport and trust—the keystones of peacemaking. We seek to open the doors to conciliation, peace, and healing. A mediation has failed if the parties, although reaching settlement, walk away angry and feeling abused.
Concord mediation is inclusive of the best elements of evaluative, facilitative and transformational mediation with due regard to people’s need for quick and cost-effective methods all within a context of successful resolution.
If you have a client or know someone who may benefit from the Mediation Services that we provide please contact, Mark Small on 087-2268394 to discuss your requirements or organize a mediation.
For more information on our mediation services CLICK HERE
Mediation Advocacy Training
Mediate Ireland provides training programs to anybody involved in the Mediation Process. One of our most popular programs is “An introduction to Mediation Advocacy”, which is specifically for professionals who represent their clients at a mediation. This is a afternoon program (6 CPD hrs are available) which runs regularly throughout the year.
For more information on our training programs CLICK HERE