Face to face mediation is the most preferred mediation option for many reasons. While online options have become increasingly popular, a skilled mediator can still make the process more effective.
For starters, participants can mediate from the comfort of their home, without having to pay for transport and parking costs. This also makes it far easier to take childcare provision into account.
Facilitates a collaborative atmosphere
Online mediation is a necessity during the Covid-19 pandemic and is likely to become an important element of the mediator’s toolkit. However, mediating remotely requires a different approach from face-to-face mediations. MTI Master Trainer Terry Marschall shares tips to mediate remotely effectively.
During mediation, mediators work with disputants to foster a spirit of collaboration. This often includes ensuring that all parties with significant stakes in the dispute are included in the process. This can include spouses, key employees and advisers. Including these stakeholders can help the mediator develop a solution that everyone is happy with.
Non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, are critical to understanding and interpreting communication during mediation. During a face to face session, mediators can observe these signals and use them to build empathy and trust between parties. This can make the mediation process more productive and help participants reach a resolution that works for them. In contrast, long-distance conversations can be prone to misinterpretation and lack the rapport and warmth of a face-to-face meeting.
Promotes open communication
Face to face mediation encourages parties to consider their underlying interests and find mutually acceptable solutions rather than focusing on rigid positions. It also promotes an atmosphere that encourages brainstorming and discussion of creative alternatives. The flexibility of face to face mediation allows mediators to adjust the process based on the personalities and cultural backgrounds of the participants, which can enhance the effectiveness of the session.
This type of mediation is particularly suitable for workplace issues because the parties can communicate with each other directly and share information without having to go through a third party. In this way, the parties can save time and money.
The use of video conferencing also makes it easier to see the reactions of other people in the room. This can help to prevent miscommunications and misunderstandings. In addition, it is a good idea to limit the use of phones and email during the mediation. This can ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak.
Allows parties to express their emotions
In addition to providing a more flexible way of communicating, virtual mediations eliminate costs related to travel and parking. Additionally, they allow participants who have health concerns or severe disabilities to participate in the mediation from home or another location where they feel comfortable.
Many disputes involve strong emotions that require emotional support and empathy in order to resolve them. In face to face mediation, mediators can observe non-verbal cues and offer reassurance and guidance. This allows participants to express their emotions more freely, and can be a crucial element in breaking impasses.
Face-to-face mediations also provide an opportunity for spouses to include neutral experts who are able to help with preparing financial documents, ensuring full disclosure and financial understanding, valuing assets, and developing options for 401(k)s and other retirement plans. Neutral expert input can be particularly useful for high conflict divorce cases involving difficult emotional issues. The use of screen-sharing features can also make it easier for all parties to collectively focus on the relevant materials during sessions.
Allows for flexibility
In-person mediation sessions allow for the development of trust and rapport that can help resolve disputes. This can be difficult to achieve in online mediations where participants are not in the same room as one another. However, these issues can be overcome with the use of tools such as caucuses and audio conference calls.
In addition, in-person mediation sessions can be more flexible. They can be held at times when the participants are most comfortable. For example, when spouses are in the middle of a divorce, they can choose to attend mediation at the start or end of their workday or during an extended lunch break.
Furthermore, a lot of money can be saved in terms of travel expenses when using a virtual mediation session. This is because a virtual meeting does not require the expense of train tickets, car rentals, parking fees, or taxi fares. It also reduces the stress of dealing with traffic and other logistical obstacles.