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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

It's a funny old game

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.

It’s been a few weeks, dear reader, since I last blogged, as I passed a chronological milestone so spent a week on holiday and still have a couple more celebrations to go, on the flip side there’s been a couple of deaths in the close family/friend circle so I haven’t felt the impetus to blog.

As my regular reader will know the steps towards full accreditation are slow, laborious and feel ever so slightly beset on all sides by contradiction and what feels like purposeful blocking by assessors, but like the Murphys….

Self care and management is one of things that we talk about a lot but only when you realise how much damage words can cause you as a mediator (whether positive or negative criticism) when they are directly aimed at you (even with the softening of "due respect"). You do really have to remember and appreciate that how we say things is often as important as what we say.  I’m reading "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss at the moment and the former head of the FBI hostage negotiating team spends a lot of time on how to say things differently, whether it be saying no without using that word or pitching your voice down when you ask “how?” to ensure it’s non accusatory.  I’d love to pass some notes to my assessor on the tone of suggesting a man of some years should go into more detailed analyses of his “journey” to becoming a mediator, for god’s sake I’m not an X Factor contestant, this is a job and whilst it has elements of the priesthood (confidentiality and small ‘c’ confessions) it’s not a calling it’s a profession and a job, if they feel differently perhaps they should reflect on their role some more.  I am aware my issue circles back to my initial resistance to joining this type of mediation council, the restrictions are too limited, the walls too high and the vision too narrow, there is always more than one way to do things but until you have the right tick in the right box sometimes you just can’t move on.

Anyway rant over let’s have a look at what’s going on in the real world where mediation continues to take a front row seat.

Fellow Manc Samy Dwek is another mediator who comes at problems from a different angle, having been a high level financial advisor he became aware of the need to assist clients using mediation techniques (though not necessarily with a recognised mediator badge)

Samy says “I am no longer a banker, I am not a psychologist, accountant or an attorney. I am a family consultant there to tend to their emotional needs, literally where money meets emotion. I assist families in communicating, mediating, building their governance and professionalizing their family structures. I enable families to build for the future…I grew up in a family business ripe with emotional issues and was surrounded with other families in similar situations. On working with private families from across the world, during my time at JP Morgan I started to see a trend – there was a need not covered by their trusted advisors.”

He's an example of why mediators existed before regulation, which has its place and is helpful for clients but it can’t be the be all and end all of mediation, simply ticking the boxes is not conducting mediation and if doing mediations does not get you to those ticked boxes it should not prevent you continuing in your career.

Anyone who has been in mediation with me will recognise Samy’s core belief that

“If you look at the root of the issue, it all boils down to communication. If we can get the communication right, we have a good chance of getting the planning right”  It’s something I start with in family mediation and often what I lead with in civil cases.

And something I have to work on outside of mediation, shouting into the void on the occasional blog notwithstanding.

And in more bad ideas in mediation cases worth under £10,000 will have to go to one hour free phone call mediation.  As a principle not bad but in practice this will damage the reputation of mediation (and yes take work away from those of us who make a living from mediation and spend thousands on training and keeping abreast of developments). 

One hour is insufficient to properly understand the drivers in a case or to find a solution that isn’t simply splitting the difference (if Chris Voss was dead he’d be spinning in his grave).

Having said there are always more ways to mediate doesn’t mean that shortcutting the process is sensible, it will and should work for clients where really there is just a quantum argument but where there is a liability argument and nuanced issues of personal behaviour (and especially where extra-judicial solutions like hand shakes apologies and without prejudice admissions are involved) it won’t work.

Drive the clients to the CMC mediators at the very least (I understand Leeds county court already sends cases to CEDR) not to a free helpline staffed presumably by the same level of competent staff on the land registry, HMRC and Probate lines.

Sadly the rest of the mediation news is either about failed mediation attempts in Ukraine or the middle east (or fun stuff behind paywalls), to end on a positive, those efforts continue and so do mine - this time next year Rodney…

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. 

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 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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