Changes In Mediation Culture


Three Ways Mediation Culture is Changing and Can Transform Your Business

By: Tonya Howe


Throughout the course of a company’s life, employees and employers may need to enter mediation sessions to work out issues related to work life, human resources and labor negotiations — among others. There are several different kinds of approaches in mediation culture — including what is known as evaluative and facilitative techniques. Learn the top three ways this interpersonal culture is changing and how the latter type of sessions can transform your business for the better.


Tip #1: The Evaluative Approach


The evaluative approach came about through the court system. Attorneys involved in a workplace dispute choose a mediator together and become active participants in the session with the involved parties. The mediator usually has substantive legal experience and has the job of pointing out the cracks in each party’s case. The mediator may then make recommendations — either formal or informal — about what he or she thinks a judge will say in court about the case. While this approach can be helpful, it also can be expensive and intimidating because legal counsel is involved. It could put the party’s on the defensive. There is a better approach that can achieve the interpersonal goals of a business, however.


Tip #2: Another Approach


That approach is called facilitative. This approach emerged in the 1960s and continued to be popular in the 1970s. It is now making a comeback. It involves a hired facilitator who creates a plan for both parties to come together to reach a resolution together. The mediator’s role is to ask questions of the parries and to try to provide context and normalization to each view so that all parties can arrive at some understanding. What is different about this approach is that the mediator does not give recommendations to the parties or express opinions. The meditator does not predict what a judge will rule in the courts.


Tip #3: Why Let the Parties Decide


The strength of the latter approach really is in the power it gives to the dueling parties to work out their issues, arrive at some understanding of one another and mutually agree on an outcome. This process creates a safe and welcoming environment for a disagreement and encourages active listening and partnership. Over time, this approach makes enemies into teammates and helps parties work toward the common good on behalf of the company. If you have a good facilitator who does not take sides but simply tries to listen and to articulate each party’s viewpoint with sensitivity and understanding — then you find that disputing party’s actually begin to understand one another and empathize. They may not agree with each other on every point, but they often to find a way to reach a resolution that is good for everyone involved.


If you are ready to create a happier and healthier workplace culture, then consider hiring a facilitator such as Summit ( and setting up facilitative sessions with your employees. This approach really puts the power back into the hands of the employees who are having a disagreement. By using a facilitator, they help ensure all views are heard and understood. They listen and direct, but they don’t make a decision for the involved parties. At the end of the day, it is up to the disagreeing members to reach a decision — and history shows that if they feel they are being heard, understood and respected, they will be willing to make a step toward one another. You’ll find a stronger and more effective workplace as a result.


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