When people think about selecting a good mediator they will usually think of getting somebody with substantive experience and sound analytical ability. These are good traits for sure but a good mediator must be able to build trust with the parties. If there is no trust established, the substantive experience and analytical skills are useless.
Establishing genuine rapport with the parties makes them want to communicate; more to it, they want to open up because they feel they can trust – they feel they are understood. This creates a real relationship which will foster real and true communication. It is only in this kind of communication that the the mediator will obtain the information he/she needs to push the negotiations forward. What is that information? It is the true interests and needs that must be met to get a deal done. Too often mediators do not or cannot rise above superficial rapport. When this occurs parties cannot rise above positional bargaining, defensiveness, or simply feeling like they are being forced to compromise.
Cary and I are very good at establishing relationship even in contentious situations. What makes us good at this? Well, I think it is because both of us have a great deal of respect for others, we know how to empathize and we are compassionate and caring. We listen more than anything and quite frankly, we speak with a love for others that comes through. I know that comes from our faith in Christ and it transforms – no doubt about it. We subtly know when and how to empower, when and how to clarify to illuminate, when and how to shine the light on something not so pretty. There is no forced dialogue and there is no artificiality – only true talk that is always moving the conversation forward. On top of that, we understand the dynamics of good negotiation without doing it for the parties. This is key because the ultimate take-away from a mediation experience is communicating and problem-solving through self-empowerment.