The A-Z of Mediation: Honesty

Posted on: June 19th, 2023

It goes without saying that parties in a mediation session need to be honest with each other. Otherwise, there can be no chance of them having some good-quality dialogue in order to resolve their issues.

But what can be said about HONESTY and the mediator themselves?

Well, quite a bit it seems!

Here at UK Mediation, a significant portion of our work is carried out before the actual day of the mediation: providing information, gathering forms and paperwork, sorting out logistics, and, perhaps most importantly, setting expectations. It is at this point that Case Managers - or the mediator themselves (if they are working alone) – need to be honest and transparent.

For example, mediation is not an easy thing to go through. Disputes are often brought to us at the very last minute after years of bubbling away, and it can be traumatic for participants to finally sit across from their ‘arch-nemesis’. There is no point in shying away from this when ‘selling’ mediation to both referrers and parties: it will be exhausting, it will be stressful, and people will get upset or angry, but it can also be incredibly helpful in bringing the dispute to an end.

And then we move on to voluntariness, which often doesn’t align with what people are expecting. Mediation, first and foremost, is a voluntary process, and this is sometimes at odds with what referrers or organisations expect: in fact, we often see parties ‘frogmarched’ into mediation in order to get the issue sorted out once and for all. Therefore, we must be transparent in that the parties can stop or leave the process at any time. This may not be what the organisation wants (especially after a significant financial investment!), but it is a key non-negotiable component of the mediation process.

And, of course, mediation doesn’t always work. As skilled as some mediators are, they don’t have a magic wand that can make years of resentment and distrust completely disappear in a day. And while many mediation providers are happy to claim success rates of 90+%, it is also important to be realistic about what can and can’t be achieved. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, mediation just doesn’t work. It may have gone on for too long, or parties may not be fully committed, and while these cases are rare, we do need to make people aware that this kind of outcome is a possibility.

Without honesty, mediation simply doesn’t work. Whether this is on behalf of the parties, or from the mediator’s point of view, it requires everyone involved to be open and transparent in order to find a resolution.

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