Here are the key skills and competencies (abilities and values) you need to have if you’re going to be a really good mediator.
Can you engage with people one to one? and in a group? Do you have good listening skills? Are you open minded? And can you build rapport? How do you cope with other people’s emotions – including anger, blaming behaviours and bad language? Are you able to feel confortable talking to all types of people?
Facilitation and impartiality
Okay, so you have views on people, behaviours and what’s right and wrong. That’s fine. But can you put them to one side and focus on what other people’s values and beliefs are, without judgment? Can you stay positive under pressure, when it feels like everything’s going wrong or round in circles?
Can you make a safe environment for people who are upset or nervous about saying what’s on their mind? You need to be able to work in a balanced way – not over focussing on the ‘positive’ person, or shutting down the ‘angry’ person. Can you stay warm and empathetic to people who are struggling and behaving badly? If someone says you’re taking sides, can you explore and find out more, or do you just insist you’re not? Can you offer hope and signpost people through an unstructured sometimes chaotic conversation?
Focusing on the customer
You’re providing a service, so are you professional, organised, able to keep people informed? Can you keep your mouth shut – even when you know the juiciest bit of mind boggling information? Do you have the judgement to know when confidentiality needs to be breached? Can you stick to guidelines and a code of practice, or do you want to ‘go your own way’? Are you prepared to hear feedback about how you came across and what impact you had on people, without getting defensive? And you can commit to continuing to learn (or do you know it all?)
Managing conflict and difficult behaviour effectively
Do you know what triggers you into a reaction? Do you understand your own hooks, and red buttons? If people swear, do you tell them off? If they say something nasty about you, do you immediately want to defend yourself? Or can you stay calm, responsive, and supportive of people in distress?
Equality and Diversity
This means being aware of the impact your social identity has on how people see you; what they may or may not chose to tell you, how far they’ll challenge you, or listen to you. It means knowing that you are cannot be seen ‘neutrally’ just because you say you are, but you need to work to show you’re neutral. Are you open to what other people’s lives are like, or do you know how things ‘should’ be done? Do you see the spirit inside everyone, or just the outer form this take? Are you aware of how power plays out in our society and workplaces, and can you find creative ways to rebalance it? And can you find the courage and voice to challenge discriminatory behaviour when it comes out, without shutting people down?
If you can do all this, and more – then you’ll be a great mediator. And we want to hear from you!