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Getting to Know You: The Art of Interpersonal Communications at Mediation - Alternative Dispute Resolution News

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Alternative Dispute Resolution News

Posted on: Feb 20, 2020

By Joan Champagne, White & Champagne

As a mediator, I enjoy attending mediation when I am representing a litigant as I always take something away from the mediation for the benefit of my mediation practice. This week was no exception.  

I arrived at the conference room for a full-day shuttle mediation. The mediator and my client were already in the room, and the atmosphere was very calm. The mediator greeted me warmly, and I sat at the table. The mediator gave the customary mediation speech and then started talking to my client, asking him questions about himself. Every time my client discussed something that the mediator was familiar with or a point of commonality, the mediator shared a small bit of information about what they had in common. The mediator then asked him about the parties’ child, and again would offer a small bit of information when my client discussed something with which the mediator was familiar. This dialogue lasted for at least 20 minutes.

I was initially concerned that we weren’t “getting down to business,” but as the conversation progressed, I realized how open my client was being with the mediator and how at ease he seemed. Our “position” on the matter was not discussed. After the conversation, the mediator stood up and exited the room “to make introductions” in the other room. When the mediator returned about 30 minutes later, we were asked to give our first offer.

Far from taking an inordinate amount of time, the mediation was over before 4 p.m. My client was thrilled with the result and I was thoroughly impressed with the mediator’s method. I will definitely put this in my arsenal of techniques to employ in in future mediations!

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