The A-Z of Mediation: Patience

Posted on: April 15th, 2024

An interpersonal mediation case with two parties typically takes up a full day. Some are completed early on in the day, while others can go right to the wire, and some cases may even require additional time.

But what all cases do require is PATIENCE.

In mediation, the participants are in full control. They decide the content of the discussions, what agreements are made, and the pace at which things progress.

The mediator, on the other hand, is there to facilitate the conversation, and to provide the time, setting, and tools required in order to come to an agreement.

So why is patience so important?

Involves highly-emotive issues
A lot of conflicts that end up in mediation have been going on for an extended period of time, and some may have been ongoing for many years. What started out as a minor issue has now spiralled out of control, leaving parties with some very strong opinions and emotions. Mediation is not an instant process, and parties may need a little more time and patience to work through these emotions.

Opportunity to explore the conflict
There’s usually a lot more to a dispute than meets the eye. A neighbour playing loud music, for example, may be the primary issue, but there will often be an underlying interest that needs to be met (safety, privacy, etc.). It may take some time to identify these interests and only then can a more productive conversation happen.

Builds understanding
When time is readily available, it gives the participants more chance to say what they need to say. Not only does this help the mediator form a clearer picture of their positions, interests, and needs, it is also useful for the parties to hear what the other has to say and, hopefully, begin to build some understanding and empathy.

Allows for self-reflection
By hearing about the conflict from the other person’s point of view, parties have an opportunity to reflect on their own actions and the potential consequences of them. It also allows them to take a step back and view the conflict away from the heat of the moment, having gained a second insight into the situation.