Mediation

Overview

Mediation provides an opportunity to resolve difficulties and differences between individuals on an informal basis.

The mediator acts as an impartial facilitator to help those involved find their own resolution to the situation. Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process. Participants can leave or suspend the process at any time. Unfortunately, because of the confidential nature of the process, participants will be required to attend these meetings alone, unless they require support from an interpreter. Participants will be able to take breaks whenever required.

Mediation has two stages:

1. Individual, private meetings.
2. A mediation meeting with all concerned.

The purpose of mediation is to:

  • Bring people together to talk about the issues in dispute
  • Help people talk and listen
  • Help people identify the issues and think of different ways to resolve them
  • Promote understanding and agreement.

In relation to staff/employment matters mediation fits with the recognised trade unions’ approach at the University of resolving disputes at the lowest level. However, the unions’ view is that mediation might not be appropriate in some conflict situations. Also, it is important to note that even if used mediation does not prohibit recourse to more formal action if required.

Individual meetings

This is a private, confidential session lasting up to one hour. The meeting may be in person, by video conferencing or over the telephone.

In this session the mediator will:

1. Take a few minutes to introduce themselves and explain the mediation principles of impartiality, independence, consent and confidentiality.
2. The majority of the session is a chance for you to talk and the mediator to listen. The mediator will encourage you to be open about your view of the situation, including
what has happened, how you feel about the situation and what is important to you
what you would like to resolve and different ways to achieve this.

3. The mediator will work to clarify and understand your issues.
4. The mediator will then explain how mediation works.
5. The mediator will finally check the following points before ending the session:
do you want to proceed with mediation?
do you understand the ‘Agreement to Mediate’?
what are the issues you would like to bring to mediation?

Mediation session

All those involved come together to work on the issues and resolve them. The mediation will be held at an agreed or neutral venue. The mediation can take between two and four hours depending on the number of participants and the nature of the issues.

The mediation session has four clear stages as follows:

1. Setting the scene and hearing the issues
The mediator gives an overview of the meeting. The participants agree principles and behaviours that will help the mediation work. Each participant has a short period of uninterrupted time to outline his or her main issues.

2. Exploring the issues
The participants discuss the issues with each other. This is an opportunity to hear directly from one another, to ask questions, share information and to give explanations. This helps to gain a better understanding of each other’s view of the situation. An agenda of issues is agreed.

3. Building understanding and agreement
The participants work on the issues to deepen understanding, recognise differences and move forward. This is an opportunity to develop ideas and think about different ways of resolving the issues. Points of understanding and agreement are drawn together. Outcomes are tested to ensure they are realistic, fair and meet the interests of all concerned.

4. Closure
This looks at what happens after the mediation session and agreeing any follow up arrangements, if wanted.

Variations on the mediation process

The mediator may change the mediation process from a joint meeting into separate or side meetings, involving one or any number of participants in the room. This will be agreed with all participants at the time. Any participant can ask to meet with the mediator privately at any time during the mediation. Any participant can ask to meet with any other participant privately at any time during mediation.

Administration

Agreements to mediate are to be signed prior to the mediation session. If you have any questions please ask your mediator in your individual session.

Reporting

The mediator will complete a brief form that details the nature of your concern, the outcome agreed and, if appropriate, referral to any other process of the University. The form also includes a list of names of those attending and the date of the meeting. This form will be held by the Student Casework Unit in relation to student issues and by Human Resources in relation to staff issues. Information included in the form will be used for analysis but the identities of the participants will be kept confidential at all times.

Preparing yourself for mediation

You should think about:

1. What you want and what is important to you
Try and identify what is needed in order to change or improve the situation for yourself or others. Once you have identified what is important to you, think about whether it is realistic. Think about what it would be like if you achieve what you want and the consequences for yourself and for all those involved.

2. How the situation has arisen and how people have contributed to this
Think about the situation you are in and how this has arisen. Think also about how other people, the institution and the environment have contributed to the situation. Think about what you have contributed to this situation, and how you might have affected the other person.

3. What you could do to move the situation forward for yourself and others.
Remember what you want and what is important to you and think about how this could be achieved.

If you find it helpful to make notes on paper to clarify your thoughts then please do so.

How mediation might benefit you

The individual meeting
This is a chance to talk in private, in confidence. It gives you the opportunity to perhaps raise difficult issues or talk about troubling concerns. This is an opportunity to clear the air and get things off your chest. This often helps people get a better perspective on their situation. You will be able to talk about what you want to achieve and how to go about that. The mediator will not advise you, nor will the mediator discourage you from any course of action. The mediator will help you think through the pros and cons of any choices you have in this situation and whether they satisfy your interests and needs. The mediator will help you think clearly; this is a chance to make decisions with someone that has no bias or stake in the outcome.

The mediation session
This is a structured process where you have a chance to be heard and listened to by others. This is also a chance to listen to and understand the person you have a difficulty with. The opportunity here is to say what you want and need from someone and to help them understand why that is important to you. This involves speaking openly, honestly and directly. The opportunity here is also to try and understand what is important to the other person and why that might be so. This involves being willing to hear someone out, holding onto your own reactions and suspending your judgements; this means listening carefully. At best this means trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and seeing things from their side. The mediator will also ask them to do this for you.

Once each person feels they have said all they need to say and that this is understood by each other, you can begin to talk about how to move forward. The mediator will help you work together to try and find different ways of moving forward. Importantly, this will mean trying to think differently. The mediator will help you build on progress you have made and recognise what has been of value to yourselves and each other. Finally, the mediator will help you practically test any proposed outcome or resolution; checking that all are satisfied with both process and outcome.

If you have any queries regarding the mediation service, please contact mediation@southwales.ac.uk