How I work & what you can expect when I am your mediator
Arabella’s unique Reset & Resolution Process for achieving peaceable resolutions
Many people think of mediation as a one-off, one-day event – often associated with a hair-raisingly late night, hashing out terms and figures. That model may work well for commercial mediations, but it is less likely to work well for interpersonal mediations, especially in health, social care and the workplace where we are seeking to rebuild crucial relationships concerned with collaboration and trust.
As humans, when a relationship breaks down, we need a window of time to: explore what happened and gradually rebuild trust, and only then we can move into a future-orientated solution-focussed thinking mode. In that mode, we are well-placed to make decisions about a sustainable way forward, and agree outcomes that will last.
For this reason I have developed a phased process called Reset & Resolution Process, where parties are able to move towards mutually-agreed decisions over a period of weeks rather than hours – achieving peaceable resolutions that last.
Reset & Resolution Process overview:
- A Commissioning Call establishes the scope for the mediation process
- Each party is offered TWO Private Meetings (1 week apart), one for Goal-Setting and one for Preparation/Coaching
- The parties are offered TWO Joint Meetings (1 – 9 weeks apart), one for Reset the relationships and making some interim agreements to trial out, and one for making a Resolution Agreement based on the re-established relationship and trust.
- The parties are given a written copy of their Resolution Agreement
The features and benefits of the phased Reset & Resolution Process:
Two Private Meetings:
- time to develop trust and rapport with the mediator
- time to discuss what happened and feel heard by the mediator (without the pressure to resolve it on the same day)
- time to receive coaching on conflict resolution and practise the skills before the joint meetings
- time with the mediator to discuss, agree and prepare for the exact Agenda, so there are no ‘surprises’ on the day
- a mental-health aware and trauma-informed approach that recognises the impact of conflict on individuals, and supports them to feel safe to meet with the other party to make decisions about the future
Two Joint Meetings:
- no pressure to resolve everything in one meeting
- time in the first ‘Reset’ meeting for individuals to explore what happened, to the degree they would like to
- space to feel heard and understood by each other, without recrimination but with authenticity
- aiming in the first ‘Reset’ meeting to decide some simple win-win actions agreements by which parties can rebuilt trust over the next 1-9 weeks (eg. re-establishing monthly meetings; change of timetable; new communication protocols)
- aiming in the second ‘Resolution’ meeting (1-9 weeks later) to review progress and, on the basis of rebuilt trust, resolve larger substantive issues (eg. care plan changes, withdrawal of notice, end of legal proceedings, settlement agreements, employment changes)
- a written Resolution Agreement is created and shared with parties. This can be kept confidential to the parties, or shared eg with the court, HR, the local authority, the NHS trust.
What if we resolve everything in the first ‘Reset’ joint meeting?
Then we can stop the process there. I’m always delighted when we need less rather than more work together before you feel back on track.
What if I want to stop the process at any point?
That’s absolutely fine. This is a flexible, voluntary process, and any party can call time on it at any moment. Please talk to your mediator before making a firm decision if you can, and do give notice where meetings have been scheduled.
Who finds out about what we discuss and agree?
Mediation is a confidential process, so everything you discuss with me in private meetings remains confidential. Similarly, everything people discuss in joint meetings must remain strictly confidential, and no recordings are to be made. The safe, confidential space is what makes mediation special, and allows people to speak freely in the spirit of seeking solutions together. In terms of your Resolution Agreement, that remains confidential to the parties, unless it has been pre-agreed, or agreed in the joint meetings by all parties, that part or all of it will be shared with relevant stakeholders.
Will the mediator decide who is right or wrong, or what happens next?
Not at all. Mediation is different to arbitration, ombudsman services, grievance investigations or court proceedings. A mediator is impartial, neutral and there to support the parties to come to their own ‘self-determined’, mutually-acceptable agreement. We are in a sense ‘negotiation facilitators’ with special skills in conflict managment and relationship rebuilding, and we don’t advise or give opinions.
Do we have to follow your Reset and Resolution process formula?
Not at all. Mediation is designed to be flexible and accessible, so we can easily create a bespoke timeline to meet everyone’s needs.