Which mediation style suits your dispute?
We’ve published many articles on how mediation can resolve disputes quickly and effectively, but did you know that there are also different styles of mediation? This month, we introduce three styles that are commonly discussed.
The first is the facilitative or interest-based style. This is one of the more popular styles of mediation used outside of the courts and is also the default style taught at SMC workshops. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator to guide the direction of the discussion towards a win-win solution. He or she can assist to clarify key interests, exchange information, clear up miscommunication and generate options. However, the mediator will not impose his or her opinion, and parties are free to decide on the solution of their choice.
In contrast, the evaluative or rights-based style involves some elements of adjudication. The mediator most often is a legally-trained person or a subject-matter expert who can analyse the issues and advise on the likely outcome of the case, should it go to court. By providing a professional opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of a case, the mediator can help parties to make an informed decision on whether to settle. An evaluative mediator may also suggest possible ways of resolving the dispute.
Lastly, the transformative style focuses on empowering parties (to determine the issues and to find their own solutions) and mutual recognition (to see and understand each other’s perspectives). Although mediation is always geared towards taking control of your dispute outcome, the transformative style emphasises a long-term change in parties’ approach towards conflict.
The pros and cons of the three styles are hotly debated, but there are general trends depending on the type of dispute. While facilitative mediation is very widely accepted outside the courts, evaluative mediation is sometimes said to be faster and preferred in commercial disputes or court-directed mediation. Transformative mediation may take longer but have more long-term impact in community mediation or disputes with a significant history.
At SMC, although our mediators are trained in facilitative mediation, they are flexible enough to do what is useful to help parties resolve a dispute. In fact, parties can also consult and discuss with the SMC secretariat to decide what style of mediation would be most suitable for a particular dispute. Good mediators will know which style best suits the dispute they are mediating and adjust their approach accordingly.
For further advice on your options regarding the different mediation styles please visit www.mediation.com.sg.
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August 2016 Issue. For past issues, read more here.