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Like it or not, you are a negotiator

Initiation in mediation

After elaborating on the principles of negotiation, the members are primed for the next stage in their training process: learning to become a mediator. Mediation is an alternative to negotiation and comprises next to two parties, which have a dispute, a third party namely the mediator. The goal of the mediator is to facilitate the conversation and to break the impasses that have arisen between both parties without losing her impartiality.

The lessons were taught by Theo De Beir, someone with a lot of experience and knowledge. In brief: the perfect man for the job! Our cooperation has started several years ago and every year it turns out to be one of the best-received workshops in our negotiation track. In two sessions, Theo De Beir explained the key principles of mediation and enlightened the members with its vision. Furthermore, he convinced the members that mediation can create a breakthrough in a negotiation that is completely stuck.

The first session was mainly focused on interactively teaching the theory. The members got an answer to the question of why mediation is a progressive way of working and how to employ it. During the second session, the focus shifted to exercises. Both by watching a mediation, in which Theo De Beir was the mediator, and by undertaking a mediation by themselves. By studying this mediation, the members could clearly observe how a professional mediator handled the conversation. Sometimes, they just had to observe and on other moments were asked to actively intervene. The primary goal was to understand the mediation process and thus see the necessary steps the mediator should take. Secondly, observing a professional gives great inspiration for golden phrases in such a difficult conversation.

In the example case, Theo De Beir tried to solve the issues between a couple that broke up a few years ago. Both still have a common goal, namely raising the kids. When one of the kids turns out to be different from his peers, the father decides to go to a psychiatrist without hearing the mother’s opinion. The moment she discovered, she could not keep calm, which resulted in a venomous dispute. Both parties wanted the best for their son but could not align their opinions. Theo De Beir succeeded in letting these people talk to each other in a constructive way. In the end, both parents could come to a solid agreement with the common goal of giving priority to the needs and wants of the son.

The members also got the chance to transform the theoretical knowledge into a practical experience by doing a mediation by themselves. The group was divided into three, two parties which had a dispute and one group of mediators. Each group could separately prepare and afterward, the mediators tried to solve the dispute. In the end, Theo De Beir provided a lot of helpful feedback to increase understanding of the mediation process.

At the end of the two sessions, the members were enlightened by the mediation process. As we try to achieve in every workshop, both the theory and practice were trained. Hopefully, they are inspired and eager to develop their mediation skills to even further by themselves and in collaboration with the board. Maybe we can welcome a few of them in the mediation team for the next academic year that competes in our competition track. The main event being the ICC Mediation Competition in Paris. We are already looking forward to hearing from them!