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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Frustration in mediation!

With the continued backlog of cases mediation is now more than ever the best choice to find a resolution for your dispute. Get your dispute resolved now so 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.

man banging head on wall

I worry sometimes that my blog becomes my screaming at the universe followed by a bit of mediation news, this week it certainly is.

I had a boss once who explained that all his frustration in work came from other people, now that wasn’t a way of deflecting any blame away from himself but what he meant was that what often frustrates you are other people’s actions. In work it generally means you plan your day, set out what you will be doing and when and then (normally the boss which in our case can be the client or sometimes a family member) decides to drop something on you that wreaks havoc with your plan.

It causes no end of stress, it’s why I always ask people when is it convenient to call back, not just call back out the blue and assume you can take the call. Today I had a great plan of morning work, catching up on some of the overspill from yesterday and addressing head on a really tricky piece of work that needed doing, great plan until someone urgently needed something that only I could assist with, and I’m now nearly into the afternoon not having dealt with the issue I planned to. That boss used to talk about putting “monkeys on your back” ie shifting the work from me to you and you can’t do a darn thing about it.

Mediation is sometimes about moving monkeys off everyone’s backs and not putting them onto someone else rather than just shuffling the jobs round, but sometimes it has to be a bit of give and take, might be money, might be who’s doing the travelling for child contact, what as a mediator you can’t lose sight of is that you (me) must not be the cause of the frustration, or if you spot it to deal with it head on.

I’m not sure I could have reacted better today, much like Bruce Banner I find I’m angry all the time with the world in general, politicians in particular and occasionally with people I have to deal with outside of mediation.

What I have to try and spot is when what I do causes others that same problem, seek solutions not objections to work better.

meeting round table
round table meeting

Frustration sometimes comes into mediation when a party feels their point is not being put across well by a mediator or not understood by the other party. This can be alleviated by joint sessions, something common in family cases but not the “norm” in civil mediation.

If you get that impression or if the one party says they would like to put the points across directly as this article says, don’t overlook the usefulness of joint sessions. More can be done in the interplay and quicker than by shuttle on occasion. Of course the usual caveats apply, only if both parties are prepared to do so, not at the insistence of one (bowing to pressure from one party can be seen as bias) and both parties have to agree to abide by the usual ground rules of listening to understand not listening to respond.

It works best, I find, with clients rather than their lawyers who can, and god forgive me for telling you, play to the crowd, even when the crowd is just me and I have no influence on the outcome.

Joint sessions need to be timed well, I usually have them at the start of civil mediations and then get everyone back once they are close to cracking a deal or we need to agree some wording and shuttling won’t assist or if there is a particular technical issue which the parties better understand than I do (I know but it happens) and they can settle it by an in depth discussion between themselves, microbore pipework is one that featured in a case, I understand what microbore is or was but the technical specifications needed to be agreed between the parties and frankly my involvement would have slowed things so a specific issue was dealt with in joint session.

Apart by shuttle or together in joint session mediation still works so give me a call.

child playing arcade game
arcade game

It’s frustrating when a really good article is behind a pay wall (you can read one article a month but that’s your limit and this week’s first two articles come from the same location, so if you haven’t got a paid for subscription here’s why we are at tipping point for mediation. (I tried to find a penny arcade machine photo but sadly just got the arcade of Donkey Kong).

International recognition has increased not just for the profession but for agreements reached in mediation not least thanks to the Singapore convention.

Technology advancements mean that mediation is now easier from home, office on the move not that I approve of the last one) as I type this I’m at the home office where much of my work is done, though I do still like to get out and see clients when I can in the flesh, but even then the use of mobile accessible sites for exchange of documents in the cloud is a boon to all involved avoiding lugging round ring-binders of information.

Courts remain overwhelmed, I say it every week, nothing has quietened the court businesses, they remain underfunded and understaffed with cuts to sitting times and judicial availability.

Courts need help to meet their obligations to providing justice, some cases really do need to go to court, not the ones clients think do but other ones which have ramifications for many people, or where children are at risk, the rest of any dispute can and should be dealt with by mediation or other forms of ADR it’s simply a matter of judges directing cases away from court.

Lawyers are embracing mediation, I’m not sure they are, they are certainly retraining (hello) and the number of mediators available appears to be on the up, although I still suggest using me as I’m hugely experienced (sorry went a bit Trump there, at least I didn’t say biggly).

So cometh the hour cometh the ADR professional, you have my number.

Finally in much more serious mediation matters the coup in Niger where the president is trying to limit funds available to those opposing forces, western governments are particularly concerned about the destabilising effect any coup may have on the region, and the threat of Russian pseudo army Wagner being used to prop up the revolution.

Mediation efforts are pretty much being thwarted on all sides with access to key players being denied and those who will talk not having the authority to make enforceable decisions, whilst the war in Ukraine may retain the headlines, the coups in Africa are just as likely to have international impacts for years to come.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary (at the moment), 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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