Best Practices in Mediation

By Sue Clark


As an emerging conflict resolution process, mediation has attracted widespread attention for being highly effective at fostering constructive conversations and reaching mutually agreeable outcomes. Hinging on the application of best practices that guide the process toward resolution, our team at the Complaint Resolution Service (CRS) has compiled a guide to achieving a successful outcome through  mediation, highlighting the importance of a structured, collaborative, and sympathetic approach that adapts to the unique character of each dispute.

Putting Impartiality First

One of the core principles of mediation is that the mediator remains neutral and impartial throughout the course of proceedings. Preserving neutrality ultimately ensures that the mediator does not take sides nor advocate for any particular outcome. This neutrality helpfully builds trust between the disputing parties and encourages open communication as well as a willingness to engage in the resolution process. Impartiality also reinforces the mediator’s commitment to facilitating a fair and balanced negotiation, contributing to the overall success of the process. As a fresh, impartial pair of ears and eyes, the mediator can explore why parties feel the way they do, the basis of their positions and help parties to focus on the critical aspects for them.

Recognising Mediation is Voluntary

Mediation will only prove to be an effective method when participants participate voluntarily. In short, everyone should be willingly taking part in the process to foster a sense of ownership and commitment to the process. Any kind of coercion naturally undermines this fundamental principle and will lead to failure in every instance. Voluntary participation ensures that you will create a cooperative atmosphere conducive to a successful resolution.

Establishing Consent and Clear Communication

Before setting out to begin with the process of mediation, it is essential to establish consent among everyone who will be participating. This involves confirming that all parties understand the mediation process and how it is entirely voluntary. By establishing at the outset that there will be clear communication concerning the goals, rules, and expectations of mediation will ensure that there is a transparent and inclusive environment for everyone to work in. Mediators should also provide participants with sufficient information to make informed decisions.

Active Listening and Empathetic Communication

Effective communication is of crucial importance when conducting mediation. Just as important is the art of active listening. In short, mediators must actively listen to the concerns, perspectives, and emotions expressed by everyone involved in the process. By doing this, it is possible to demonstrate a high degree of empathy and understanding which will encourage parties to comfortably share their thoughts and feelings more openly. Uncovering underlying issues and facilitating a deeper exploration of the root causes of the dispute, this best practice is one to pay careful attention to.

Establishing your goals

It is essential that any mediation process is suitably structured with clearly defined goals that will contribute to its success. It is the responsibility of mediators to carefully guide the parties through this structured approach, setting out with the identification of issues that is followed by exploring, negotiating, and ultimately, developing mutually acceptable outcomes. Establishing a clearly defined framework ensures that the mediation process proceeds in an organised manner, preventing misunderstandings and confusion. Altogether, goal-oriented mediation provides direction, facilitating a focused and productive resolution process.

As an experienced team with a proven success rate in mediation, the Complaint Resolution Service (CRS) is on hand to provide organisations with support whenever and wherever it is needed. To find out more about how we can work together, be sure to get in touch today.