How To Ensure A Fair And Balanced Process
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which the disputed parties set together and engage a neutral third party or a mediator to help settle their disputes outside the courtroom. Mediation is often preferred over litigation as the letter can be time-consuming and cause significant money loss.
Moreover, mediation is non-adversarial and promotes healthy interactions between the disputed parties. With the help of this process, the parties can easily agree on certain points and make specific compromises to reach an agreement and end their dispute.
Power dynamics involved in mediation can severely impact the outcome of the whole process. The role of a mediator is to highlight the power imbalances in mediation-related discussions and make sure that the rights of both the involved parties are saved and a fair solution is reached which is mutually beneficial for them.
Power Dynamics In Mediation
Power distribution between the disputed parties in a conflict is termed power dynamics. The personality, resources, experience, and status of the parties involved usually impact the distribution of power. If the mediator does not well manage the power distribution between the disputed parties, it can impact the outcome of the mediation process.
For Example: In a mediation process that involves two parties with unequal distribution of power, the powerful party might assert dominance in the conversation, while the other party might feel intimidated and won’t be able to express their concerns or make their points clear.
This is why balancing the power dynamics is very important for the mediator. It can only be done by the most experienced of mediators who focus on taking care of both the parties involved in the dispute.
How Can Power Imbalances Affect Mediation?
If there is a power imbalance between the parties involved in the mediation process, mediation can be negatively impacted. The party with more power will have an unfair advantage over the party with less power. When this happens, the needs and concerns of the powerful party are heard, and the resolution does not take care of the needs of the less powerful party.
So, the mediator must intervene and create a fair and balanced environment for both the parties involved in the conflict.
How Are Power Imbalances Managed?
To ensure a balanced and fair mediation process, mediators use various techniques. Let’s look at some of the best techniques used by mediators to manage power dynamics in mediation.
1. Providing Equal Floor Time
The mediator can provide equal floor time to both parties to manage power imbalance in a mediation process. Safeguards the right of both parties and gives both of them an equal opportunity to express their concerns. While one party takes the floor and speaks, the other one can take notes about their concerns and create a useful strategy to resolve the conflict by addressing their concerns.
So, providing equal floor time creates a level playing field for both parties in the mediation process and ensures a fair and balanced dispute resolution.
2. Supporting The Suppressed Party
Whenever there is a power imbalance between the parties in mediation, the less powerful party feels suppressed and acts reluctantly when invited to speak and express their concerns. The mediator can easily support the less powerful party and encourage them to speak by creating a fair and safe environment. This can be done by providing reassurance and asking questions to help the less powerful party open up and take care of their interests.
3. Using Neutral Language
Whenever the mediation process involves imbalanced power distribution, the mediators should be mindful of the questions they ask and always speak a neutral language. With the help of their neutral language and supporting words, they can encourage the less powerful party to use the level playing field to put forward their demands.
Using neutral language involves asking open-ended questions and avoiding the use of leading questions to encourage the other party to open up. This keeps the less powerful party from feeling suppressed and keeps them involved in the mediation process.
4. Being Aware Of Biases
In addition to providing a level playing field to the parties involved in the conflict, the mediator should also be aware of their own biases and should work to eliminate them. The mediation process can only be fair and impartial when the mediator has no personal bias.
When both parties know that the mediator is impartial and unbiased, they can easily trust him and get more interested in the mediation process because of the increased trust. This type of behavior by the mediator usually results in fast and balanced mediation results.
The Importance Of Creating A Safe Environment
A balanced mediation is only possible when the mediator focuses on creating a non-threatening and perfectly safe environment for both parties.
The mediator can achieve this by establishing clear rules at the very start of the mediation process and by keeping the whole mediation process and its details completely confidential.
When both parties feel perfectly safe and the environment is non-threatening, it can help make the mediation process much more productive and build trust between the parties and the mediator. This is how mediation can end with a reasonable and favorable outcome for both parties.
We can conclude that power dynamics have a huge role in the mediation process. The mediator should always try their best to manage the power dynamics throughout the process and create a level playing field for both parties.
The first step towards well-managed dynamics is the recognization of power imbalances by the mediator and the creation of a safe and non-threatening environment by them.
Lastly, the mediator should also focus on eliminating their own biases, which will help build trust between the mediator and the disputed parties.
The role of power dynamics in mediation is very important, and they must be well managed to ensure a reasonable outcome for the disputed parties.