What is Impartiality in mediation? A decision to operate, at least temporarily, in a manner that supports all parties equally and respects their right to choose their own solution.
This approach is intended to allow the ideas of the most directly involved people – the employees in the conflict – to emerge. This process is designed to offer them a process to explore the spectrum of issues and interests before them fully. Therefore, it’s helpful to refrain from allowing the participants to become attached to particular solutions early in the process. Even more damaging to resolution is when the facilitator becomes attached to her own solution for the parties.
Adopting impartiality in mediation is crucial for maintaining fairness and promoting effective resolution of conflicts. Here are some key steps you can take to cultivate impartiality in your mediation practice:
Recognize your biases and preconceptions. Understand that everyone has inherent biases; being aware of them is the first step towards managing them. Reflect on your own values, beliefs, and experiences that might influence your perception of the conflict or the parties involved.
2. Create a safe environment:
Establish a safe and respectful environment where all participants feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions. Encourage open communication and active listening among the parties. Emphasize the importance of treating each other respectfully and addressing issues rather than attacking individuals.
3. Equal attention and opportunity:
Give each party equal attention and opportunity to share their perspectives and concerns. Avoid favoritism or showing preference towards any party. Ensure everyone has an equal chance to contribute and be heard during mediation.
4. Active listening:
Practice active listening skills to fully understand the parties’ interests, needs, and underlying concerns. Avoid interrupting or making assumptions. Summarize and reflect back on what has been said to demonstrate understanding and create a space for clarification.
5. Neutrality in decision-making:
Mediators don’t typically impose decisions but may guide the parties toward mutually agreed-upon solutions. If you need to make recommendations or provide options, ensure they are neutral and unbiased. Help the parties explore creative alternatives and empower them to make informed decisions.
6. Emotional management:
Maintain emotional detachment and avoid getting personally involved in the conflict. Emotions can run high during mediation, and it’s essential to manage your own emotions while remaining empathetic towards the parties. Create a supportive atmosphere where emotions are acknowledged but not allowed to hinder the process.
Remember, adopting impartiality in mediation is an ongoing process that requires continuous self-awareness, education, and practice. By striving to be fair, neutral, and unbiased, you can enhance the effectiveness of mediation and facilitate resolution in a just and equitable manner.
While we all have a point of view about everything we encounter, the hallmark of the facilitator’s role is to keep these judgments to ourselves rather than advising the parties. Remember to practice neutrality in word and action, if not in thought.