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The University of Southampton

Types of mediation

Mediation is a flexible process and can vary depending upon the needs of the individuals involved and the complexities of the case. It usually follows a set process and many people find knowing the steps within that process helps to give them confidence and be more relaxed about what is coming. This process is designed to really uncover what lies behind the conflict and/or breakdown of the relationship rather than to focus just on fault or blame.

What will happen first

After you have met the Mediation Services Manager and it has been agreed that the case is suitable for mediation, you have confirmed that you would like to go ahead and the other party(s) have agreed to mediation, the Mediation Services Manager will agree with you which of the two types of mediation would be most suitable for your case depending on it's complexity. The case will be assigned one or two mediators (depending upon whether it is to be a full day's mediation or a facilitated discussion). For both types of mediation you will be sent in advance a Schedule for the Day outlining the date, time, venue and plan for the day. You will both be asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement and to complete a ‘Goals for Mediation’ form prior to the date of mediation. (These will only be seen by the assigned mediators).

Full mediation

The morning of the mediation

We work to a 'one-day' model of mediation assigning two co-mediators. Three rooms will be reserved exclusively for this purpose in a venue away from your area of work which will include a room for each party and a mediator’s room. Each party will meet with both mediators individually first to discuss their perception of the situation. The mediators will ask lots of questions to ensure that they fully understand the cause and impact of events. You will then return to your room for the day to work on a statement you will be asked to make in the afternoon when you first get together with the other party. After you have had some time to prepare that statement you will meet again with the mediators to go through it.

The afternoon of the mediation

After a break for lunch the mediators and both parties will get together in the same room for the first time. The mediators will start by explaining the ground rules (around courtesy and respect), will set the lose agenda for the afternoon and give all parties uninterrupted time to voice their key issues. The mediators are unbiased and non-judgemental and will not divulge details of earlier discussions unless they have permission to do so. They will help you think about what you need, examine the impact of events on all parties, encourage parties to look at ways things could be improved that would work for both and start to think about a future focused agreement that is acceptable to both parties. Either party can at any time ask to take a breather, a comfort break or to speak to the mediators privately in their own room.

Concluding the mediation process

The mediators will help the parties to draw up a simple statement outlining the key areas of agreement. All parties will sign this including the mediators. A typed copy will be sent to you if this is what you want. In this agreement you will be encouraged to think about how both parties would like to manage things in the unlikely event of things slipping backwards, in order to avoid the relationship deteriorating again. At the conclusion of the mediation you will be reminded about the confidentiality agreement you signed and what this means in practice. You will also be asked to complete a confidential and anonymous evaluation form which the mediators themselves will not see.

If this case was referred to the Mediation Service by another i.e. Line-Manager/HR, the Mediation Services Manager will contact that person only to report that a mediation has or has not taken place and an agreement was or was not reached. No further information will be divulged.

A facilitated discussion

This form of mini-mediation is suitable only if the conflict or difficulties are relatively new and/or centre on a particular issue which is not too complex and multi-faceted. This type of mediation usually takes between 2-4 hours and can often be implemented within a week or so from referral date, subject to everyone's availability.

The start of the facilitated discussion meeting

Because the nature of the dispute will be less complex than in a full day's mediation, the mediator may feel the need to meet each party individually for up to 30 minutes first or may chose to go straight to a joint meeting with all parties. The ground rules will be established and usually each party is given the opportunity to read a pre-prepared statement to the other party without interruption. The mediator may then confirm the subject or matter under discussion and then encourage the parties to explain to each other the difficulties from their perspective, to listen to each other and to help each to explain what they need in order to move forward. Once areas of commonality have been found, depending on the wishes of both parties, they may wish to draw up a written agreement (which can be typed up and sent to them both) or simply agree to a verbal agreement.

Concluding the facilitated discussion

Once agreement has been reached and signed off, each party will be reminded again about the confidentiality agreement and what this means in practice and will be asked to complete an anonymous evaluation form which the mediator will not see.

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