A Good Mediator’s Qualities
The best mediators will get to the heart of the issues early and will be present until a negotiation is reached. I’ve sat in mediations for over eight hours because the parties were close to an agreement, and no one wanted to leave until the matter was resolved. While it is important during long mediations that parties aren’t just starting to agree out of exhaustion, it is also crucial to keep the ball rolling when you see that progress is being made.
I’ve seen mediators take a personal stake in the mediation, even agreeing to go to a house and help clients to separate and remove their personal property when sitting in a mediator’s office couldn’t make that possible.
I’ve also known mediators who were better able to understand financial issues and brainstorm options that were reasonable and could actually work for the parties. In situations when finances are a strong focal point, having a financial mediator has been extremely helpful.
What Are The Best Qualities?
In other situations, the parties’ own mental health or issues regarding their children have been in the forefront of the negotiations. In situations like this, a mental health professional who also is trained to mediate can help parties when attorneys could not. Of course, when the mediator is someone other than an attorney, it is always smart to have an attorney review your agreement before it is finalizedto make sure that it covers the bases and does not conflict in any way.
And sometimes, if you realize up front that you’ll need both a lawyer and a financial mediator, or a psychologist mediator, you can retain both to co-mediate your issues.
The following skills and qualities make the best mediators. The best mediators are capable and willing to do the following:
- They analyze complex legal issues quickly.
- They engage excellent communication and negotiating skills.
- They employ active listening skills.
- They reframe conversations so that others can understand.
- They enjoy an understanding and appreciation of human nature and practical psychology.
- They are able and willing to sidestep and defuse confrontation, rather than insight it.
- They employ keen intuitive skills.
- They quickly decipher unstated central dynamics at the heart of a dispute.
- They guide the process without being controlling.
- They create a safe space for the clients while allowing them to reach their point of most tension.
- They exhibit patience and tolerance.
- They demonstrate good judgment.
- They display a sense of fairness.
- They own a disciplined ego.
- They are comfortable with uncertainty.
- They are also comfortable with surprising information and emotions.
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About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.