There are essential skills needed to be an effective commercial (or any) mediator. Some skills are natural, instinctive and can be highlighted and polished. Others can be learnt. The result will be people who have a potent force for settling disputes and even for reconciliation – and the world needs lots of such people!
An effective mediator must be a good:
- Manager – orchestrating the day in the most efficient and effective way, helping the parties make the best of the opportunity and getting the best deal as a result;
the mediator needs to be seen to be ‘in control’, a firm manager of the process; a safe pair of hands who will deal with sensitive issues; efficient; purposeful; even-handed, independent; constantly optimistic; energetic..
- Communicator – bringing clarity to an often confused and deadlocked situation and helping parties to speak with each other in a safe and nonthreatening environment;
The style and method of questioning, the ability to challenge without appearing to be partial, of being deeply interested without being inquisitorial, and of re framing negative or adversarial statements into positive, more conciliatory words, can be a key to helping the parties to move on.
- Negotiator – Using the information provided in the best and most positive way and helping parties to shape and settle the best deal possible that is realistic and that will stick;
The mediator is in an incredibly powerful position in a mediation. They are likely to know more about each party’s true position – their underlying interests and needs – than either party and so have insights into how to influence the process to obtain the best deal for everyone.
- ‘friend’ – building relationships of trust with the parties and their advisers through giving time, carefully listening to their story and understanding their emotions, so that they will share sensitive information and know that it will not be used to their disadvantage.
the mediator is a ‘friend’ to all. Rapport can be built in different ways, but the purpose must always be to create a relationship of trust and respect.