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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Dignity - at the core of mediation

With the continued backlog of cases mediation is even more so now than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute. Get your dispute resolved now while you can’t go anywhere you can really concentrate on what’s important and what deserves your time and energy.

Northwest Mediation continues to use Zoom, Skype and FaceTime as well as the phone and emails to resolve disputes should we add we also do live in person mediation too! So please do not feel that you cannot contact us if you would like to mediate but wish to do so remotely.

Dignity – a concept that was discussed in training this week present by the superb Dr Georgina Tsagas this week. It features, whether we acknowledge it or not, in every mediation. “My dignity (worth) has been damaged” is often at the root of why mediations are more effective than litigation because you don’t get your dignity back through court.

You might spend a lot of money to find that out, but in mediation you can discuss your damaged dignity, though we would never put it that way, but the harm you feel is harm to your self-worth and restoring it is part of the process, it’s why an apology goes a long way sometimes to settling mediations even more than the financials might.

Part of that restoration of dignity can only happen through what we refer to as active listening, ok it’s listening, all do it but active listening is the employment of what is a natural sense into an investigative tool. Karen Matcke Crosby discusses this briefly here.

Much like the police do when interviewing suspects or advocates do in court it’s listening closely to what is being said (and what goes unsaid) not to respond but to understand, then reflect back what we have understood to make sure we have actually heard the person’s view point or issue and then discussing how we can move forward.

It is also listening to the silences in between, where are the awkward moments, what are you not saying and how can we help you say it.

I always warn clients that I ask difficult questions in mediation and that is in no way to offend anyone’s dignity but sometimes it’s making you think about how the other party’s self-worth might be affected by your actions and how you can change them in the future.

Bankruptcy can damage your self-worth a lot (it impacts on your car insurance for years as well), you can feel like a failure and find it hard ever to move on from a life altering step. But it can be viewed in the positive light, it’s a learning experience and if you do come out the other side you will do so stronger and more ready to face new challenges.

In this article Julia Winters discusses the downside of mediation in bankruptcy with the vast number of potential stake holders who need to be dealt with, without getting too personal I’ve dealt with insolvency practitioners in different guises and they tread a fine line between the insolvent, their own costs interest and the creditors. Skills of mediation are always employed by them whether they do so as mediators per se or simply as part of their own skill set.

As Julia concludes it’s the art of what’s possible not what everyone is happy with, after all in bankruptcy it’s unlikely that there is ever going to be enough to go round (otherwise the individual wouldn’t be bankrupt or the company wouldn’t be insolvent). Mediation as both blessing and curse, yeah I guess it is in some cases in most however the parties are going to still be better off finding a settlement in mediation than litigation especially if a number of other competing creditors are able to reach agreement you may find you are the only one still arguing for a bigger piece of the ever diminishing pie.

I could pick any number of strike cases to talk about how sometimes it is the money that’s needed to restore the worth of your employees, whether it be nurses, junior doctors, fireman, railway workers, teachers, court staff….need I go on?

But let’s look at one slightly more removed from HMG and look at the picketing Yellowknife city workers (great name).

The picket was preventing vehicles entering the city facilities but a court injunction meant that they would only be able to delay vehicles for up to 10 minutes. That’s still an effective disruption but clearly not what the picketing workers would want.

Following one adjourned hearing the court was told that the parties were going into mediation to sort their differences, almost like striking and picketing works isn’t it?

Don’t keep letting your worry about the dignity of discussing your difficulties prevent you coming to mediation, I’m friendly, professional and cheap (I could say cost effective but google tells me that the C word is what clients search for so yes cheap mediation not free mediation but certainly much cheaper than going to court) and you keep your dignity intact as it’s all private.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (except apparently when it won’t be anymore), it’s confidential, the mediator is independent, by using those pillars to support your work the parties keep control, save costs, save time and energy and reduce stress. Finally this one is mediation, mediator jointly appointed, areas of discussion agreed and intention to be bound by the outcome.

In person or via electronic media as we’ve said before choose to mediate early and resolve your issues effectively, timeously, and with less stress and costs than going to your solicitor so you can get out choose a different path, not quite the road less travelled but perhaps the path less adversarial. You have an interest in the outcome the sooner you get round the mediation table the quicker you can move forward and avoid the grilling a cross examination in court would put you through.

By having a deep and meaningful discussions with parties the mediator elicits what the true “red-lines” are and where there is the potential for compromise, it is with this structured period of reflection that the parties are then able to reach an accord.

The flexible nature of mediation and the possible outcomes make it an ideal way to resolve disputes in an ever-changing world and the open nature of discussions in mediation whilst remaining confidential allows all sides to engage fully in the process and understand the needs of all involved allowing parties to reach a conclusion which both sides can live with and move on.

There are so many situations which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public will go to avoid referral.

Whether you need a mediator to help out with a construction matter in the Northwest, or council’s plans in Cheshire, a civil mediator in London, a commercial mediator in Manchester, a dispute resolution for your family in Liverpool, a neighbourhood mediation in Stockport, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes, civil mediation or inheritance, wills and probate arguments contact me at Northwest Mediation on 0161 667 4418 or via email at

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; civil mediation; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance wills probate mediation; property mediator; civil mediator; civil litigation; fast track mediation; injury mediation

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