Given that you've probably never taken part in a mediation before, below we answer some of the most commonly asked questions upfront for you - you'll also be offered a 'pre-call' with your mediator prior to the mediation itself, so don't worry if your specific questions aren't covered here - jot them down and ask your mediator - he or she will be more than happy to answer them. The most important thing is not to worry about the mediation process itself - we make them as informal as possible and there really isn't anything to worry about - it's our job to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible and you will never be forced to do anything you don't want to do.
What will happen on the day of the mediation?
Generally, you will begin with separate and confidential meetings alone with the Mediator, and then progress to joint discussions. Every mediation is different, and the mediator will utilise their judgement throughout. In our experience, the sooner joint discussions can take place the better, but the mediator will constantly review and make professional judgement as to when the best time will be in your specific situation.
More than one separate meeting may be required. The mediator will help to prepare you for a join meeting with the other parties, as a key aim of mediation is to improve the working relationship going forward.
Can I bring somebody with me to the mediation?
Workplace mediation is a process that focuses on the specific relationship you have with the other person (or people) involved therefore no third parties would normally accompany either person. This is an opportunity, through having an impartial mediator facilitating the process, for you to speak directly with the other person and they to you – the opportunity for sustained long-term improvements is significantly decreased if other parties are involved.
Where will the mediation happen?
The meetings will take place in rooms that will be pre-arranged by the referrer. The mediator will ask for rooms that are as discreet and private as possible, in order to minimise the scope for distraction or interruption, and to allow all parties to speak as openly as possible. In situations where people are unable to meet at the same venue the mediation can be carried out online, where the same processes and principles apply.
Is the mediation confidential?
Absolutely – yes. You will be asked to sign a mediation agreement beforehand which will explain about the importance of confidentiality. Our mediators are governed by strict processes in terms of confidentiality.
One of the main benefits of mediation is confidentiality. Other than the situations outlined in the mediation agreement (eg disclosure is required by law) there are no restrictions on what you tell the Mediator during private sessions and you don’t need to worry how you say it – it’s best to be yourself. This all helps towards gaining a mutual resolution to the issues.
Who will the mediator be?
The mediator will be fully trained, qualified and regulated by the Civil Mediation Council. They will also have significant experience of workplace situations. You can see some details of our mediators here.
Should I bring evidence to the mediation?
Sometimes the temptation is to try to prove to the mediator that you’re right and others are wrong. The mediator is not there to judge and will not do so – they will focus on the relationship between the parties involved. The individual and joint sessions are usually around 60-90 minutes each and there is not time to explore documentation from the past.
The mediator will ask you to speak to him/her and not to read from extensive notes. We recommend that the most documentation you bring is a few bullet points on a piece of paper to remind you of the issues which are most important to you. The mediator will not tend to look at any documents in detail unless they are part of a proposed solution.
What if I feel that I can't continue with the mediation?
The mediator keeps a watchful eye on how each person is handling the process. Anybody can suggest a break at any time, including the mediator – sometimes you may need a few minutes to gather your thoughts or to talk with the mediator alone before resuming.
It’s in everyone’s interest to proceed with the process, if at all possible. The mediator may, however, decide there is no advantage to continuing that day and may suggest a halt is called to the process pending further discussions.
What if the mediation become confrontational?
Part of the mediator’s role is to manage the ongoing dialogue to ensure that each party respects the other and uses appropriate and constructive language to achieve a better understanding and hopefully an agreed way forward.
Sometimes a little tension in the discussion can help to generate some progress and the mediator will manage this accordingly. For this reason, the mediator will not always be able to make the discussion entirely comfortable, as it is important not to avoid the difficult issues. The mediator will make a professional judgment about when to intervene and ensure a sense of balance and cooperation in the process.
The mediator is independent and impartial and is there to make the process equal and fair to all parties. If behaviours are inappropriate, then the mediator will stop the meeting.
What do you expect me to do on the day of the mediation?
All we ask is that you come to the process ready to express your views as clearly and respectfully as you can, and also be prepared to look at yourself and how you might make positive changes to help move the issue forward towards a resolution. You should not come to accuse, blame or to use the process to score points against other people, but genuinely to try and find a way of resolving the issues.
What if I feel there's no chance of the mediation sorting things out?
Don’t enter into mediation just because someone else thinks it’s a good idea but do stay open minded even if you can’t foresee a resolution - this is often the case. If you’re not motivated to engage and look for solutions, you may end up wasting time for yourself and others - if you are open to trying to get a mutual way forward then you most probably will with the mediator's help. People are often surprised at how they can work out solutions through mediation.
What preparation do I need ahead of the mediation?
You should consider ahead of the day what you want to achieve from the process. The mediator will help you to focus on just three or four key things you want to communicate to the other person that will clarify your position at present and how you believe things can move forward.
Be realistic in preparing for the mediation and don’t be too fixed about your requirements. For example, some people approach mediation insisting on an apology from the other person. The reality is that sometimes there will not be an apology given but there may be a ‘shift’ in mutual understanding that can often mean more than the words of an apology.
Take time to consider the fact that no conflict situation is ever the result of just one person being at fault. We can all be stubborn and inflexible at times and thinking about how you might make changes as well as asking the other person to do the same will help to achieve a better outcome.
Will the mediation be recorded?
No. The mediation agreement that you and the mediator sign will stipulate that no recording of any kind will take place.
Can I take notes in the mediation?
Yes, but only for use within the mediation – these must not be used after the session. Any notes taken during the meeting by the mediator will be destroyed following the mediation - you should do the same or hand them to the mediator for him or her to destroy.
What information from the mediation will be fed back and who to?
The mediator will need to provide some feedback to the referrer and will use the last part of the joint session to focus all parties on achieving and documenting agreed outcomes. The mediator will ask what the parties are happy to have communicated back to the referrer, as they need to be updated on progress, plus any solutions they need to be aware of or help with.
What will the outcome of the mediation be? What if we disagree?
The only good outcomes to a mediation process are those in which both or all parties agree. Nobody will be forced or cajoled into ‘signing up’ to a way forward that is not right for them or in their interests. Outcomes on paper that are not sustainable are not fit for purpose and should be challenged. However, you will be required to invest a lot of time and energy into working on improving the relationship - mediation is by no means a magic pill. Mediation is the starting point to repairing working relationships and is not the finishing line.
What if more time is needed for the mediation?
The mediation process is usually concluded within a single day. If you, the mediator or other parties believe that more time is needed to consider a way forward, it may be suggested that the process is adjourned and reconvened. Additional time would need to be approved by the referrer.
If I've been through mediation does that mean I can't raise a grievance?
No. Attending mediation is not instead of any procedural processes that exist within your workplace such as grievance procedures. Neither does it mean that you cannot pursue other claims through employment tribunals, etc.
The intention of mediation is to resolve the issues that exist between parties in a mutually agreeable way so that nobody involved feels that they need to raise grievances, etc. As long as you and other parties involved are open to achieving a resolution there is a very high possibility that you will do so.
What happens after the mediation?
The mediator will discuss with the parties what they need going forward and will help parties to document this in the appropriate way. Any agreement reached is between you and the other parties, it is not an agreement with the mediator.
The mediator will agree with the parties the feedback to be given to the referrer and this will be provided following the mediation. It could be that there would be a value in a regular meeting to check progress with the referrer or another suitable person, or even that a training/coaching or additional support need has been identified. Whatever the specific outcomes, all parties should expect that the referrer will speak with them to review what happened in the process and what further support is needed.
We hope you have found the answers to these questions useful. Every mediation is different, as is everybody's circumstances so if you do have a question or anything that's worrying you please do raise it with your Mediator, or if you're considering mediation just give us a call or drop us an email. It's very important to us that you don't worry about anything - the chances are we can quickly ease your concerns.