A mediator must be neutral, impartial, objective, flexible, intelligent, patient, persistent, empathetic, effective as a listener, imaginative, respected in the community, honest, reliable, non-defensive, persevering, persuasive, forceful, and optimistic.
Principles of negotiation and problem solving which emphasize the long-term interests of the parties are the primary ingredients of the process. The mediator acts as a catalyst and advocates for the resolution of the dispute by assisting in the definition of the issues; dissolving obstacles to communication; exploring alternatives, and facilitating the negotiators to reach an agreement.
What are the components of a good mediator?
Fair and impartial – it sounds obvious, but it is the critical starting point. It means considering all sides of a dispute with equal compassion and understanding the issues and needs of all parties. I don’t want to be seen as working especially hard for one side or the other. I want to be recognized as working hard for a fair compromise.
Understands the law – the attorneys involved in mediation can’t spend time explaining the law to the mediator. The mediator has to grasp the issues behind each case.
Involved in the process – a good mediator listens to the arguments to the parties’ needs, and a good mediator understands the motivations for all parties. There is always more to a case than just money. You don’t want to be in a hurry. You need to spend the time necessary to help develop a settlement. The parties don’t want to feel like they’re being rushed out the door.
Appropriately aggressive – a mediator is more than a courier taking offers and demands back and forth between parties, but a good mediator cannot force or coerce a settlement. The goal is to help the parties reach their own settlement.
A great mediator has outstanding interpersonal skills that facilitate mediation. Should be intelligent, articulate, passionate about the practice of law, and compassionate toward all litigants. They should also understand that litigation is always personal to the litigants and does their best to ensure that the mediation process is fair.