People-oriented Mediation

Charlie Young, an experienced mediator, has come to learn that mediators often forget about the most important part of the mediation: the people. Everyone gets so caught up in the monetary and concrete topics surrounding mediation that they forget that the core of the problem is that people cannot get along with each other anymore. Young believes that more mediators need to focus on the healing and reconciliation aspects of mediation because doing so will lead to better resolutions. Decisions made for the sake of reaching a resolution will usually not last as long as decisions made with a people-oriented approach.

Young thinks people-oriented mediation is also necessary because it helps people take responsibility for their actions.He starts off all of his mediations by saying it is okay for humans to make mistakes and gives examples the mistakes he made. He concludes his spiel by saying we should all learn to accept responsibility for our actions. He gives an example of one of the smalls claims he settled between two landlords and their tenants. The tenants had caused a lot of damage to a rental home because they thought the landlords had promised a better house. The landlords were really upset about the tenants intentionally damaging their property. Young learned early on that it was going to be very difficult to reach a resolution between the two parties, so he tried his people-oriented approach. Young asked the landlords if they would work with the tenants if they accepted responsibility. They said yes. Young asked the tenants to accept responsibility for their actions. They did and the landlord accepted their apology. This was a huge step forward in the mediation process. A resolution was soon worked out. For Young, the most important thing here was that the parties left reconciled and talking to each other.

Young also found it helpful to address the issue of confidentiality at the beginning of mediation. Many clients think they cannot express what they really feel. Young believes it is important to reassure clients that they can speak from the heart. Everything they say does not have to be grammatically or legally correct. Simply saying this to your clients can make a huge difference in Young’s experience. Young also objects to calling some of his cases “small cases” because he believes nothing can be small if it is about people. He concludes by saying we must all learn to place more value on the people in mediation. Not only will this result in everyone accepting responsibility for their actions, resolutions reached through a people-oriented approach are more likely to last.

Source referenced: Mediate

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Rausch Mediation & Arbitration Services
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