Mediation is a fairly solitary profession despite the fact that it is so people focussed. Unlike working within a team, there is nobody to bounce ideas with or decompress with at the end of the day. The significance of that is that there is nobody to tell you how well you are doing or that there are things you need to improve upon.

I’m sure most mediators would agree that it is great feeling when the mediation results in an agreed settlement. You begin with two parties totally polarised in their disagreement. There is frustration and anger within the participants and perhaps fear too.

Breaking into private sessions and listening to each party have their say without any argument or judgment is like taking releasing the steam from the pressure cooker. One of the most rewarding moments in mediation is when the outrage dissipates and the process of moving forward begins. That moment is key to a settlement being reached but it is vital to keep to communication facing forward lest the negative angry mood is resurrected.

Even when a dispute fails to resolve it can still be rewarding when the parties have shed the emotional response to the dispute and gain clarity regarding their own next steps. For a mediator, it is easy to give yourself a pat on the back when there is a pleasing outcome, but it is not really the point is it?

Feedback forms and reflective practice are excellent vehicles for personal development and continual improvement.

Reflections can include

· What was the moment or question I asked that was pivotal to the settlement?
· Do I think the participants felt ‘safe’ to tell me everything that might help the case?
· Did they feel that I was unbiased and impartial?
· Did they feel pressured into making decisions?
· As a consequence of being in mediation did the participants manage to explore all the alternatives of how an agreement might be reached or of what would happen next if they chose not to settle?
· What could I have done that would have improved the mediation experience or outcome?

A feedback form can help to provide some of the answers. Below are a couple of very positive feedback forms I have recently received

As my 1st experience of mediation, I thought it was well organised. When seeing the cost I did have concerns regarding the level of quality but those concerns were quickly eradicated and it proved to be excellent value for money.

Jackie, the mediator, was great. I thought she brought a calming influence in setting out the process for both parties. All points made in our chatroom were taken on board and clarity was requested and given. I believe there was no bias to either party and the approach taken helped us to achieve a fair settlement. I would definitely use this mediation service again and recommend to others.

I thought the mediator handled matters well. She was clear in her questioning and her handling of the timing of the mediation was good. In my experience they are often allowed to drift but that was not the case here.

Lovely to receive but what have I learnt from them?

Appearing to be organised and in control gives people confidence Lesson – Be organised and continue to look for tools which make it easier to stay organised

Stay calm. Lesson- The dispute is not about mediator so there is no need to be otherwise. Calm and engaged is what makes people feel safe and able to say what they need to say.

Time management is valued Facilitating a negotiation requires the mediator to be mindful of time passing, particularly as running late can cost the client in additional mediator fees and solicitor fees if they have brought a representative.

Positive feedback is of no help if it leads to complacency. Enjoy the compliments as it does add to the job satisfaction but do not use them to stoke your ego too much as the next mediation might be quite different.

Being a mediator is a privilege. You are invited into people’s personal lives, they are sharing confidences and trusting you to do no harm.

The mediation is not part of your life story but of theirs and their feedback is a gift. Learn from everyone, invite the feedback and whether positive or negative, use it for your own evolution and growth.