As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one.”
And, depending on the circumstances, this can sometimes be true when talking about mediation. Co-mediation, as it is called, is where the process features more than one mediator, usually two.
It is common in family mediation, especially in cases of couple separation. Many mediation providers of this nature try to ensure that the mediators mirror the disputants in some way, usually by gender. It is then theorised that both partners would be able to relate to one of the mediators, increasing the likelihood of being open to sharing information.
Whilst many mediation providers don’t practice in the semi-legal area of couple separation, co-mediation can also be used in areas such as workplace, neighbourhood and commercial mediation. In these regards, there are two main situations in which we are likely to come across co-mediation.
First of all, we often suggest co-mediation to our recently-accredited learners. By teaming up with another mediator, they can be actively involved in a real case, combining their skills to navigate the mediation. In addition, it’s also a great opportunity to learn from others, picking up information by watching how they contribute to the handling of the process.
On top of this, co-mediation is also used when the case involves a large number of participants. In these particular situations, it can make the process more manageable and allows for greater control and assertiveness. This is also useful for more volatile meetings, with both mediators being able to support and back each other up.
In both of these scenarios, co-mediation can have a number of benefits, both in terms of the process and the potential outcome.
• Resources – With two mediators comes twice as much knowledge and experience to draw from. They are more likely to find a solution if the mediation throws up a curveball, by possibly having previous experience in a similar situation or by having a skillset that covers it.
• Impartiality – Impartiality is one of the most crucial parts of the mediation process and having two mediators reinforces this. In the unfortunate event that one of the mediators appears to go off track, their colleague can act as a “check” to correct the balance.
• Empathy – Having two people listening to what an individual says means that important issues are less likely to go unnoticed. The disputant will feel that they are being heard more, making them feel comfortable in sharing information, as well as being more receptive to a potential resolution.
• Educational for disputants – By setting a good example of how the mediators interact with each other, it shows the disputants how they could communicate going forward. This can help the longevity of an agreement, taking that example on-board to potentially prevent further conflict.
• Educational for mediators – Even if both mediators are experienced, it can always be considered a good thing to see how others work. You can pick up tricks, tips, and feedback, as well as gaining more experience in cases where you might not have as much as others.
For situations like those outlined above, it may well be the case that co-mediation is the most optimal approach.
However, when it comes to mediation cases for both individuals and organisations, it is important to take every possible factor into account before deciding on the best course of action.
Find out more about our external independent mediation services
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