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Is mediation the right path for you? One of CMP’s leading practitioners tells you his journey

Nigel is one of CMP’s most respected trainers and mediators. Here he explains what makes him tick.

About 20 years ago, a friend was setting up a local mediation service for neighbourhood disputes and asked if I was keen to give mediation a go. As soon as I started the training I felt a resonance towards mediation and have never looked back. I can’t quite believe it but I have now worked for CMP Resolutions as a mediator and a trainer for over 10 years.

I love mediation and training others.  Being a mediator really helps me bring my training to life as I am able to share experiences from a wide range of mediations which adds a layer of diversity to the content.

I have been mediated myself, which was a very emotional experience for me and one that allows me to empathise strongly with parties to a dispute – I use this insight to help new mediators.

The hardest and most useful lesson I learnt came early on when I was mediating neighbourhood disputes. I was about two hours in to a two-party meeting where both parties were remaining very stubborn and getting nowhere.  I realised that I was personally invested in them sorting out their situation, which was getting in the way of effective mediation. I consciously let go of this need to help them, which quickly allowed them to find a more effective way of resolving their conflict.  The learning here was to get my needs out of the way so that parties can get on with their issues.  So my biggest challenge is constantly reminding myself to let go of that need to help people… in order to better help them!

My number one tip for new mediators is to remember that you know more about mediation than the parties. Having recently been trained you will be trying to remember every last detail from the course, but the most important thing is to relax, take a deep breath and trust the process.  Equally, don’t try and rush to agreements too early, because people are usually caught up with their feelings; you have to work on their interaction long enough so that when you address the ‘content’ they are in a psychological state where they can make realistic agreements.

At its best, mediation is a healing process which offers individuals the opportunity to have a voice and their own space to express themselves, which we don’t get in a punitive system.

What makes mediation so effective is that our organisational structures are very closely linked with our justice systems, and organisations concentrate on finding out who is right or wrong based on their own regulations, sometimes not dealing with the underlying issues.  Mediation has a much wider scope not only for solving a particular issue but also to heal the emotional tension which is causing it.

I believe that as mediation is more widely accepted organisations will see that the benefits are far greater than the current processes. You only have to look at the work of The Forgiveness Project to see just how powerful mediation can be. (http://theforgivenessproject.com/)

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