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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

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.

Sometimes sorry seems to be the hardest word, but often an apology and accepting or taking ownership of an error is the best way for parties to move forward. Too often these days people think they have to slip into politician speak and avoid the simple act of asking for forgiveness and accepting that they have made an error. Met Police you know what we mean? Or perhaps as of yesterday the Murdoch Press? Sometimes it’s not enough to simply acknowledge it but that is the first step, the next is to do better, Met Police we still mean you but we also mean clients as well.

Often times we start in mediation with a history of “non compliance” with agreements or orders and getting a party to accept the impact their actions (whether deliberate or reckless) is part of the process towards a more productive future.

The act of apology is therefore a vital aspect of communication that holds the potential to mend relationships and foster understanding. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of saying sorry in mediation and how it can pave the way for successful resolution. Join us on this insightful journey (can you tell there was an element of AI in that?) of reconciliation and conflict resolution.

1. Understanding the Power of Apology.

Apology serves as a powerful instrument in the mediation process, acknowledging the impact of actions or words on others and expressing genuine remorse. By apologizing, client demonstrate their willingness to take responsibility, this of itself can foster empathy and create an environment conducive to resolution. Moreover, apologies have the potential to rebuild trust and shift the dynamics of a conflict from adversarial to collaborative.

2. The Elements of a Meaningful Apology

As I say crafting an effective apology requires more than mere words. Mediators often emphasize the importance of sincerity and authenticity in apologies. A meaningful apology should consist of the following elements:

a. Acknowledgment of wrongdoing: Taking responsibility for one's actions or words and recognizing the harm caused. b. Expression of remorse: Conveying genuine regret and empathy for the pain or inconvenience caused to the other party. c. Empathetic understanding: Demonstrating an understanding of the other party's perspective and validating their feelings. d. Restitution and resolution: Offering to make amends or find a solution that addresses the concerns raised during mediation, this can often be the “end game” in a mediation, if one party has been seen to be in the wrong (though rarely are cases so one sided).

3. Overcoming Barriers to Apology

Apologizing can be challenging, as it requires vulnerability and self-reflection. Some common barriers to offering an apology include fear of admitting fault, concerns about legal implications, and cultural or personal beliefs. Mediation provides a safe space for individuals to overcome these barriers, with the mediator acting as a facilitator to guide the process and create a supportive environment for apologies to be given and received.

4. The Role of Mediators in Encouraging Apology

Skilled mediators play a crucial role in facilitating apologies during the mediation process. They create an atmosphere of trust and encourage parties to express their emotions openly. Mediators can help individuals understand the impact of their actions, empathize with the other party, and guide them in formulating sincere apologies. By fostering effective communication and facilitating the apology process, mediators lay the groundwork for successful resolution.

5. Benefits of Apology in Mediation

Apologies offer numerous benefits in the context of mediation. They can:

a. Restore relationships: Apologies pave the way for rebuilding trust and fostering healthier, more constructive relationships. b. Improve communication: By acknowledging mistakes and showing empathy, parties can enhance communication and create space for open dialogue. c. Enhance resolution outcomes: The act of apologizing often leads to more satisfactory resolution outcomes, as it addresses underlying emotional needs and promotes understanding.

So other than the met police who needs to say sorry this week?

First off we have lots of employers who are discovering that the best way to resolve matters is by mediation, whether by saying sorry, negotiating a change in working environment or finding an amicable way to part company evidence from Ireland shows a massive increase in the uptake of mediation based solutions.

Face to face mediations increased by over 200% the WRC reports with successful mediations also increasing by nearly 300%. That’s a hell of a jump and one which we are likely to see continuing especially in the UK where now nearly everyone is being affected by the cost of living crisis and the “luxury” of expensive litigation will become a thing of the past. Give me a ring I’ll do you a deal on fees if you like, what have you got to lose?

Construction disputes are also one of those areas where apologies really go a long way, one party may feel that “we trusted them with our dream home” and that feeling needs to be acknowledged and if possible and willing apologised for not having met expectations. Often once the apology is done the parties can move on to “proving” they are sorry by working out a way to resolve matters, if relationships having soured entirely we have worked with builders who have gone back and finished a job for good discount and cases where the client in the construction has agreed to pay for work done and for works to be completed, and yet other cases where the parties agree on a third party coming in and being paid by some division to finish the work. All things are possible in mediation.

I can’t pass up a mention of such a brilliantly named business. Crabby Joe’s Restaurant situated on the Massachusetts/Connecticut border has an owner Ken Eggleston who has been quite vocal in saying his renovation/refurbishment plans for the restaurant didn’t need to end up in court or in mediation.

But the fact that the town and Crabby Joes are now in litigation does rather suggest the other party felt differently! Thankfully the parties are going to attend mediation with a view to reaching an agreeable way forward.

As a Spongebob fan obviously I’m ken to know if when it reopens there will be crabby patties.

The three pillars of mediation remain it’s voluntary, 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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