Mediation is an effective and non-adversarial process. Because mediation deals with emotions surrounding conflict as well as exploring options for resolution, it is equally helpful for:
Families, including adolescents and elders, addressing issues in the farming and agriculture sector, and in the Workplace – between staff, staff and managers, and between management members.
- Mediation provides a framework for exploring issues safely, openly and honestly.
- It is timely and efficient
- It builds and strengthens relationships
- In mediation, people come to a clearer understanding of the conflict situation they are in, and how it is affecting them and others
- They become aware of their strengths, their choices and how the dynamics of the conflict are affecting relationships
- These choices form the foundation for resolving the conflict by agreement of everyone involved
- The trauma sensitive mediator training I have taken has informed my work with both adults and young people.
Parent – Child
Among the most unique and significant life-long relationships are between parent and child. One aspect that makes these relationships so unique is the inherent nature of it. Children are constantly changing as they go through different developmental stages and our relationships inevitably change with them. Parents experience some stages as easier and more enjoyable than others but challenges arise as behavior and attitudes change and children develop into their unique selves.
Parenthood doesn’t come with much preparation – we learn it on the job. Being a parent is full of delight, uncertainty, frustration, stress and reward. Parents are balancing work and domestic obligations, while simultaneously nurturing other unique and special relationships. At times parents can feel overwhelmed, stressed and at the limit of their energy, skills, creativity and resources.
Mediation can help when we reach an impasse; when communication has broken down, when emotions are volatile, when we feel estranged from those we love most. Mediation is valuable when we don’t know what to do to repair and rebuild what has been a healthy, loving relationship.
Mediation helps by providing a forum for respectful, honest communication, by emphasizing compassionate listening, identifying shared values, clarifying differences and encouraging dialogue and problem solving together. Strengthening and preserving these most precious relationships is worth the time and effort. Bridges are built in mediation because we learn about each other, how we have changed, what each of us needs. what we feel and what we value most. Through mediation we reach deeper understanding and closeness.
Family relationships are most often lifelong. As we grow up and grow older, lives change and these changes affect each of our relationships in varying ways. Some of the most challenging changes occur when a family member reaches an age where basic life decisions become more difficult. This can put a strain on everyone as differences surface about how to address major life transitions including health and safety issues, financial concerns, the need for extra support and care and housing considerations. When these issues appear, adult children may find relationships and conversations with parents and siblings difficult and sometimes overwhelming. Individual family and economic considerations, and even simple geography can challenge the ability to participate actively in parent care and decisions.
When an important family discussion is needed about a major transition, from handing in the car keys to more complex care needs, the mediation process is an important option to consider. Mediation’s goals include:
- Developing an understanding of how important the ability to work together is to the well-being of the senior family member
- Developing communication strategies to continue to make decisions together in the future as circumstances change
- Giving families an opportunity to identify a wide range of options and to create mutually acceptable solutions to difficult issues
- And finally, avoiding court and guardianship processes which can increase cost and conflict
After meeting with individual family members we convene a family meeting. This meeting provides a space where individual concerns and circumstances are shared and understood. My role is to facilitate a purposeful conversation to develop creative solutions and to address the changing nature of the relationships in the family as new situations evolve.
Family mediation also includes relationships between siblings and other family members. The goals of the process remain the same, to facilitate open and honest communication where each person is heard and acknowledged and where shared decision making takes place to strengthen and rebuild significant relationships.
Farming and Agriculture in NY State
I am on the panel of The New York State Agricultural Mediation Program (NYSAMP). NYSAMP provides the agricultural community with the opportunity to communicate clearly and negotiate effectively in order to find fair and workable solutions to challenges they face. Decisions are made by the people directly involved, and not by mediators or outside authorities. The Agricultural Panel addresses issues of land and farm leasing, conflict with landowners and tenant framers as well as disputes arising with USDA. Mediation through NYSAMP is completely confidential. Consultations to discuss mediation and whether it might be useful in a specific situation are also confidential. These services are offered at low or no cost.
Individuals and Teams
Leaders and key staff working in teams or with members of the public are faced with sensitive situations and difficult conversations daily. Under-achieving team members, tensions between strong personalities, accusations of bullying or harassment, and difficult attitudes can cause serious stress for managers and teams.
Mediation in these contexts aim for clarity, understanding, and a deeper exploration of how to address the issues at hand. Mediation helps re-build broken relationships and strengthens the ability of individuals and teams to work together more effectively.
The way it works
I work with you to determine the mediation intervention that will be most likely to assure positive results.
- The process begins with a phone call with whoever is making the referral or inquiry.
- Once the mediation is agreed, I contact the parties involved and set a time to meet separately with each.
- This allows me to assess the situation and determine the best steps forward – whether to move to joint session or consider other formats such as shuttle mediation or continued individual meetings to assess next steps.
- Because every situation is different it is wise to consider the different options available in addressing individual, family, and organizational needs.
Interpersonal conflicts between two people can often be handled in one day, with individual meetings taking place in the morning and a joint session in the afternoon. It is advisable however to keep open the possibility that extra time may be needed either to complete the joint session or to hold a review meeting within a few weeks or months’ time.
Family or Team mediations, or particularly fraught and long-standing interpersonal conflicts, will often need more time and careful consideration will be given to the timing and configurations of planned interventions.
Agreements reached in mediation are more likely to be sustainable because the people involved have control over them and agree to them voluntarily. If it becomes apparent during or after mediation that a formal process is more appropriate to the situation this can be pursued. In most cases however mediation will deliver a sustainable and viable resolution acceptable to all parties.