Last fall, Sarah took a class with SEEDS where she learned a form of mediation. This style of mediation requires all parties to voluntarily choose to participate.
This style of mediation is not about deciding who is "right" or "wrong" or what outcome is most "fair" -- it is about coming to a solution that is mutually agreeable to all involved parties. It is also *not* the mediator's job to come up with solutions, though they may suggest options during the brainstorming session.
General form of a mediation session:
- With everyone in the same room, the mediator(s) talk(s) to each disputant in turn, asking for their take on the situation (the usual prompt is "What brings you here today, in your perspective?")
- There may be a few rounds of going back to each disputant until the all the relevant info is on the table.
- During this portion, everyone is asked to avoid interruptions and speak only when it is their turn, possible non-verbally indicating wanting to address a point as it comes up.
- Throughout this process, the mediator(s) acknowledge and reflect each nugget of info as it comes out.
- After most of the relevant info has been shared, the disputants are encouraged to start directly responding to one another, again reflecting and summarizing what they heard the other party say.
- At this point, if it seems agreeable to everyone, the group may begin brainstorming and writing down possible solutions.
- Another option is to close the session and agree to meet again (or not), depending on timing.
- Sessions are capped at 3 hours, and any participant can request to stop or pause at any time.
REACH out to Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Mediation" in the subject to discuss scheduling a session. No need to state the nature of the conflict in the initial request.
These sessions are free, and there is a network of other folks who took the same class who are interested in providing free mediation services as well, so if you'd prefer someone outside the community, or prefer having multiple mediators, that can be arranged.