In order to best approach your situation, understanding the styles of mediation is essential. Each mediator has a preference to style which will be uniquely beneficial to your situation. Knowing your personality and that of the other parties involved, you are uniquely suited to assist in choosing what style will work best for you.
My core approach as a mediator is a combination of Facilitative and Evaluative. It is my duty to assist the parties through open-ended question guidance and reframing to reach the core concerns and interest of each party that are leading to impasse.
According to current theory there are 4 methods used by mediators. Here’s a short description of each one:
- Facilitative: The most popular mediation style. The mediator is completely neutral and offers no recommendations or opinions whatsoever as to what the outcome should be. The mediator simply “facilitates,” through questions. Carefully directed questions get to the “core interests” (what really matters most in the dispute), the mediator validates those interests and in turn separates them from the parties’ “official positions,”. This facilitation will then uncover the common ground between the parties where the solution to the dispute lies. Facilitative mediation empowers each party to find common goals and achieve sustainable resolutions to complex conflicts, while also building a foundation of a positive relationship for future interactions.
- Evaluative: With Evaluative the mediator directly “evaluates” the dispute with a question and answer process, and then makes recommendations to the parties as to what might occur should the case go to court, as well as offering opinions regarding the strengths and/or weaknesses of each side. With this type of style, the mediator facilitates and questions the parties but will only be neutral to the extent that he or she does not give legal advice.
- Narrative: With this type of style, each party gets to tell “their side of the story” with the hope being that each party will listen to each other in order to “see” their perspective, and to detach themselves from their own fixed viewpoint. After the storytelling, the mediator then extracts the parties’ common ground and formulates a “joint story” in which the dispute is replaced with a proposed solution. Like the facilitative and transformative styles, the mediator is completely neutral, offering no recommendations or opinions to the parties.
- Transformative: This is considered one of the newer styles of mediation and is designed to “transform” the parties’ relationship by using a great deal of zeal and empowerment, and placing a heavy emphasis on interaction and communication between the parties. Like the facilitative style, the transformative mediator is completely neutral, offering no recommendations or opinions to the parties.
Additional information and explanations can be found at www.mediate.com.