Just as it is with most professions, the practise of mediation requires some personal attributes and skills if one would truly excel at it. While prior specialised training in related fields may offer an advantage in acquainting practitioners with the formalities of the mediation process, anyone who is committed to learning and improving over time can become a good mediator.
Nevertheless there are certain personal qualities and skills that should be possessed by anyone who desires to be a good mediator. Let’s get started with the personal attributes after which we’ll talk about the skills.Do you want to become a better mediator? You'll need these personal qualities and skills. Click To Tweet
Composure: This has to do with the ability to hold yourself steady under stress. It could also be understood as being calm and collected even when under intense pressure. Mediation session involves getting people with opposing views to arrive at agreement. So you can expect a significant level of tension at some points in the process. Part of your work as a mediator is to defuse this tension and you need a good degree of composure to do that effectively.
Humility: We all have our flaws and imperfections. And conflict situations have a way of bringing these flaws to the fore or making them more obvious. The mediator must be humble to acknowledge his/her own imperfections in order to demonstrate empathy and fairness to the disputing parties.
Non-judgemental disposition: You must remember that regardless of your personal sentiments, your role as a mediator is not to pass judgement. You are not to justify someone and condemn another. Rather, you are expected to simply maintain order while facilitating conversations and guiding the parties towards reaching a resolution of their own. Don’t try to influence the outcome with your own judgement.
Confidentiality: Your role as a mediator puts you in a position where you might have access to confidential information. You must conduct yourself in such a way that the parties involved can trust you with such information. Let them see that you understand the authority that has been vested in you and that you will use that authority responsibly.
Commitment to ethical standards: It is very important that you hold yourself up to basic principles of human relations and the ethics guiding your work as a mediator. These principles will serve as guard rails that will keep you on course and ensure that you don’t compromise the mediation process with your opinions. A commitment to principles and ethics will help you to maintain professionalism throughout the proceedings.
Empathy: You need to be able to put yourself in each party’s shoes and see things from both perspectives while not necessarily agreeing with either of them. This will help you to be fair and unbiased so that you can be the impartial umpire that you ought to be.
Patience: Mediation sessions might involve dealing with deep seated issues that have lingered for many years. So it could feel like trying to make sense of a tangled mass or beat a path through the jungle. You would need lots of time to iron out issues until you get to a point where both parties can sort things out. This is why you need to be patient as a mediator.
In addition to the foregoing attributes which are essentially personality traits, there are some soft skills that are important for mediators to learn. These are mostly communication and human relations skills such as the following:
Listening skills: A mediator must be able to practise active listening to understand each party’s submissions.
Leadership skills: In every mediation process the mediator naturally assumes leadership role. While you don’t have power to determine the final outcome or pass judgement in any way, you must must be able to lead both parries to a mutually agreeable resolution.
People skills: To succeed as a mediator you need to have genuine interest in people. It goes beyond just doing your duty; you need to like people regardless of their differences. You should be eager to help them.
Verbal aptitude: As someone who will be directing conversations, you need to be proficient in the use of words. This will help you to communicate in such a way that you can help disputing parties better understand confusing issues.
Team building skills: What you’re trying to do in a mediation session can be likened to repairing a rift in relations between disputing parties. It’s like trying to help two people walk hand in hand even if they can’t see eye to eye. This requires team building skills.To succeed as a mediator you need to have genuine interest in people. It goes beyond just 'doing your duty'. Click To Tweet
As much as it is important for every mediator to possess these attributes and skills, please note that not having them all is not a reason to disqualify yourself. You can improve yourself with training and deliberate practice which will eventually help you to become a better mediator over time.