Dr Patricia Marshall
3.30 in Yurra
Mediating for many years has advantages; the mediator feels less discomfited by aggressive behaviour and by the surprise of the unexpected. But the mediator who is so familiar with the task and role may forget what the experience is like for parties in mediation, thus missing the opportunity to be a true facilitator of the meeting. To analyse the needs and fears of parties, and to understand their perspectives, this paper draws on conflict and personality theory and practical experience in workplace, family and community mediation settings. What do parties expect from the mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner? How do these expectations conflict with the mediator’s understanding of their role? How does the experience of P1 differ from that of P2? How does the layout of the waiting room contribute to anxiety? How does the mediator deal with individual preferences: the introvert versus the extrovert; the reflector versus the rapid decision maker; the methodical problem solver versus the party who acts on ‘gut feel’?
The very personality differences that had a bearing on the conflict will be present in the mediation session. How can the mediator navigate a path through these conflicting preferences and traits, and still have parties believing that they have been treated respectfully and the process is fair because the mediator has understood their individual concerns?