When a dispute exists between two people, two organisations, or even between an individual and an organisation, sometimes it is necessary to have someone step in to help resolve the dispute. A mediator is often brought in to help people or organisations settle disputes prior to legal action being taken.
There are three styles of mediation used to settle disputes before the lines of communication break down altogether, including:
Facilitative mediation is the most common method of mediation used when settling disputes between two people. Mediation to settle child custody before a case goes to court is usually facilitative. This method usually involves the mediator asking questions to guide, or facilitate, a discussion between the two parties.
The mediator’s role isn’t to come to a decision for them, but to help keep the discussion on track and guide them to a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator may make comments to help validate each party’s point of view or help them discover resolution options, but they do not make recommendations or give advice. Most mediation training courses in Melbourne teach facilitative methods to help parties come to mutually beneficial agreements.
Mediators using the evaluative method help to settle legal disputes between two parties. They usually meet with each party and their attorney separately instead of joint sessions like facilitative mediators. In the evaluative method, mediators will listen to each party’s case and evaluate its strength. The mediators then give recommendations based on what they think a judge or jury may decide.
Using this method, mediators not only evaluate each party’s legal position, but also help them weigh the costs and benefits of settling the case versus taking it to court. Mediators are much more involved because they structure the mediation process and can have a direct influence on the outcome of a case.
The transformative method is similar to the facilitative method in that the mediator meets with both parties together and tries to empower each side. They also try to get each side to recognise the other party’s needs, interests, and points of view. The goal is to come up with a mutually beneficial agreement by helping each side transform and recognise the value of each point of view when coming up with a resolution.
Like in the facilitative method, the mediator allows the two parties to structure the mediation process, as well as the outcome. The mediator follows the lead of the two parties and may guide the negotiations, but doesn’t recommend solutions.
Depending on what type of work interests you, if you want to be a mediator you may focus on one of these three methods. Mediators who guide couples to come up with a resolution to a custody dispute may study the facilitative method, while those negotiating with countries during peace talks may use the transformative method. If you plan to work within the legal system, then you may study the evaluative method of mediation.