How do you feel about the prospective mediator?
Trustworthiness is demonstrated by a person’s actions, words, demeanor, and dress. First impressions are crucial. Mannerisms, vocal tone, as well as facial expression and general behavior often help determine whether or not a person is trustworthy.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably wind up somewhere else.” -Laurence Johnston Peter
An effective mediator is, at all times, focused on what is occurring in the mediation session. The mediator should be especially aware of what the parties are communicating physically as well as verbally. It is likely that much more is being “said” by each other non-verbally. The effective mediator realizes that effective listening is a very important characteristic, and he or she:
- Uses direct eye contact with the person who is speaking.
- Uses body language and facial expressions that reflect interest in what the parties are saying.
- Is adept at mentally tracking and staying with the dialogue between and among the participants.
- Responds to what is being said as each party speaks in turn.
- Does not indicate whole-hearted agreement or disagreement with what either party says (to maintain neutrality).
By keeping an active focus on what is occurring during the mediation and on what is being said (both verbally and non-verbally), the mediator remains totally engaged in the process. The mediator’s function as a task manager is to keep the attention of the parties from wandering from the process. If a mediator is not able to focus himself or herself on the parties, the mediation could take an unusually excessive amount of time.
A pre-mediation conference or deciding upon an agenda before mediation, are valuable tools to provide direction to the mediator and the parties.
Previously in the Preparing for Divorce Mediation Series: How to Choose a Mediator and How a Mediator Should Act – Impartiality & Neutrality
Next in the Preparing for Divorce Mediation Series: How to Choose a Mediator and How a Mediator Should Act – Flexibility
Click here for a Full Summary of the Preparing for Divorce Mediation Series.