Mediation is one of the many tools the Staff Ombuds Office uses to help you resolve conflicts. It is a process by which an impartial third party (the ombuds, acting as mediator) facilitates communication between two or more disputants to assist them in reaching mutually agreeable solutions.
One great advantage of mediation is that it allows the individuals involved to stay in control of their own situations, rather than turning over control to another person (whether it be a higher level of management, a hearing officer or arbitrator, or anyone else in a position of authority).
A Constructive Process. The role of the mediator is to assure a fair and balanced process -- one which enables everyone in mediation to be heard and to sort through their issues in a constructive way.
There are several ways the mediator accomplishes this:
- Talking to each person individually before mediation to help them identify their underlying interests, rights, and goals, and to coach them in effective communication skills;
- Establishing effective ground rules for the discussion; giving each person a chance to tell her/his story without interruption;
- Helping each person to clearly identify, and articulate their concerns in a way that is authentic, understandable and constructive;
- Guiding each person through and exploration of possible options for resolving conflict.
A Confidential Process. In order to encourage the fullest participation and exploration of the real concerns and options for addressing them, everyone who participates agrees that everything that is said in mediation is confidential.
The Parties Control the Decisions. The individuals involved in the conflict are in control of the decisions made throughout the process and the agreements reached that will satisfy their main concerns. The mediator will facilitate the discussion and provide structure for the productive exchange of ideas and options for potential resolution of the conflict. However, the mediator will not make decisions for the people involved, nor oversee or enforce the agreements reached.