We love developing new workplace mediators - whether it be teams of internal mediators, or those who go on to be fully accredited external mediators. There’s one question we get asked a lot - “will I make a good workplace mediator”?
The good news is that mediation is not rocket science - there’s nothing academically stretching about becoming a really good mediator - there’s no way on earth I could do it if there was!
Mediation is more of an emotional intelligence thing.
For most people who attend our training, their main challenges are simply gaining the confidence to facilitate the conversations and to know what to do when things get tough. That’s absolutely understandable and expected though - if you knew what to do and how to do it then you wouldn’t need to attend the training in the first place!
People often confide in me about how nervous they are in learning these new skills and worrying about whether they will be good enough. I always see these as positive traits. Being nervous means you care - what a great attribute to have as a mediator.
If you are overly apprehensive, give me a call so I can reassure you. Our main priority is for you to have a good experience in the training. We don’t get you to do role plays in front of the class for example - I have no interest in embarrassing people!
So, to answer the specific question then! Here are a few attributes that make a good mediator:-
It's natural to warm to one party more than the other, believe or disbelieve different versions of events, align more with somebody's moral standards, favour experiences that match our own, or share cultural / religious backgrounds and beliefs. To be a really good mediator you need to be able to compartmentalise these and remove them from your thinking.
Be completely trustworthy.
Most issues between employees involve a lack of trust. The worst thing any mediator can do is breach confidentiality or break this trust, so if that’s you, don’t even attend the training!
Have bags of empathy.
You don’t have to agree with a person’s viewpoint but the ability to understand where someone is coming from and put yourself in their shoes is a real plus point if you want to excel.
Be a people person.
Anyone who genuinely enjoys interacting with others will be at a distinct advantage - we are dealing with people after all! If you prefer taking notes or emailing rather than engaging with people, you’ll struggle to be an effective mediator.
Put your own beliefs aside.
As a mediator you are not there to judge people on what they say and take the moral high ground.
Be comfortable with the grey.
No situations between people are 100% black or white. By getting people to talk, you’ll help them to understand different perspectives.
Forget about clauses in contracts.
Leave debates and judgements about the application of clause 22.214.171.124 to those hearing grievances, or lawyers and judges in litigation. Our job as workplace mediators is to help people to avoid judgement and implement their own solutions.
Focus on the future.
‘He said, she said’ type debates about things in the past won't get anybody anywhere, which is why grievances don’t resolve issues. A great mediator gets behind the positions people take and helps them to achieve their real interests.
Be passionate about helping people.
The stress people endure when they have issues at work can be very damaging and it isn’t just the person who has raised a grievance. As a good mediator you will have a genuine desire to help them move forward and eliminate the stress.
When you operate to the high level we prepare you for, you will never give up. Even when there seems no way forward. A good mediator knows there will be a solution, even when nobody can see it - yet!
These are some of the key attributes that will help you to be a great mediator but don’t worry if you don’t have them all - none of us are perfect!
It really is very much about the person you are rather than the job you do.
Probably 90% of the time that you’ll utilise your new skills won’t officially be in a mediation, as they really are life skills - you’ll see a huge benefit outside of work too!
If you’d like to explore training as a mediator further, drop us an email, give us a call or if you want to schedule a meeting with me you can access my diary here,