A recent ABA task force did a comprehensive review of studies examining whether the following mediation techniques were helpful or harmful:
- pressing or directive actions or approaches;
- offering recommendations, suggestions, evaluations, or opinions;
- eliciting disputants’ suggestions or solutions;
- addressing disputants’ emotions, relationships, or hostility;
- working to build rapport and trust, expressing empathy, structuring the agenda, or other “process” styles and actions;
- using pre-mediation caucuses; and
- using caucuses during mediation.
The conclusion, perhaps not surprisingly, is that all of these techniques, in the right case, case be helpful, but some can be harmful if not used appropriately, which reinforces what you probably already knew: Pick a skilled mediator who knows all the techniques and has the savvy to know when to use them.*
Do you have an opinion on whether any of the seven listed mediator techniques are helpful or harmful? If so, let me know, as I’d be delighted to hear from you.
* Here’s the full report: REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON RESEARCH ON MEDIATOR TECHNIQUES