A skilled mediator is essential to a successful mediation. While many mediators have the requisite training, it takes more than that to be a great at mediation. Legal and practical experience, plus a unique mindset and constellation of personality traits can make a significant difference in a mediator’s ability to facilitate communication and compromise between the parties. The following guidelines can help you distinguish between a good family law mediator and a great one.
- Training. A mediator must have a 40-hour basic training certification, as well as training in a specialty area, which is family law for family law mediators. However, mediation is a lifelong learning endeavor. A great mediator will pursue further training. Mediation is a skill set and it requires lots of practice to do well. A mediator’s abilities can be honed when exposed to the teachings of more experienced mediators, or those with natural abilities that may be not be so natural to that mediator.
- Experience. A mediator who practices family law brings valuable experience to the table. Family law and courtroom knowledge enables the lawyer/mediator to not only educate mediation clients, but also to direct them to other great lawyers, financial experts, and child experts that they are likely to need to get the information that is important to final decision making. Further, since laws are created from societal norms and expectations, legal work exposes the lawyer/mediator to those laws, so he/she is on top of the most current norms.
- Mindset and personality. While someone can be trained to be a good mediator, a great one also has a unique set of traits. A natural listener, who has a deep empathic understanding of people, can interpret body language, and is also very intuitive, will be a better mediator than someone who doesn’t have those traits. A background in psychology is also very helpful in mediation, for it can open windows to the thoughts behind behaviors. But, the most important thing for a great mediator is to be a compassionate communicator. Some people are naturally good communicators, and some require practice. Mediators need an analytical and organized mind as well as the skills to communicate thoughts in ways that people can hear. Often, the way we say things only leads to non-communication. Finally, a great mediator will have a healthy appreciation for his or her abilities but will not allow ego to interfere with the mediation process. So, a great mediator is someone who can say “oops,” and own up to being human and fallible, while still maintaining a professional atmosphere during mediation.
Choosing a great mediator means that you will engage with someone who creates and supports a process that is organized, goal oriented, and compassionate. He or she will provide a safe environment for communicating your feelings and gathering the information you need to make decisions, which results in a faster and more satisfactory resolution of your disputes.
If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss whether mediation is the right option for you.