Mediators as young as nine and as old as, well I’m not quite sure, gathered at Queen Margaret University on 3 and 4 December to enjoy Mediate 2015. They did so to explore the power of mediation in a range of settings and using different styles of mediation.
For me one of the biggest learning points was about how varied the practice of mediation is. The insight provided by Kenneth Kressel into a more directive style took me a long way from the style I use when mediating at the Sheriff Court. Even though I’m not likely to adopt a radically different style of mediation it got me thinking about what I do in mediations and has made me more aware of little things that can have a big impact.
The other big learning point was from Tamara Relis who demonstrated the different outlooks and expectations between lawyers and their clients in both litigation and mediation. She described the difference as being similar to lawyers are from Mars and their clients from Venus. I think a number of people might have felt this but to be shown the academic research that confirms such feelings shows that there is work to do.
The final area that I found fascinating was how mediators and mediation organisations can easily, by the simple use of language, turn off potential clients who would otherwise be keen to mediate. Liz Stokoe in her excellent presentation on the impact of communications has made me think about how the Network [the Scottish Mediation Network] should be revising our call handling, by the use of certain words and phrases we are able to disengage clients without knowing it.
Ultimately whilst the conference was great and I learned a lot, perhaps the greatest value was in simply bringing mediators and those interested in mediation together. The value of shared experience is huge and the sense that we have the power to influence ministers and government to adopt a wider use of mediation is something that will keep driving me forward over the next year.
Graham Boyack, Director of the Scottish Mediation Network