Top tips for mediators

In recent years, the global construction industry has spent more and more on solving disputes, with the financial impact in the past two decades reaching billions of dollars.

Mutli age, handshake business

According to the latest Arcadis report, $56 million was tied up in disputes in the Middle East primarly in the social infrastructure and public sector. (Arcadis Construction Disputes Report 2017).

Historically, it has been the tool to settle disputes between tribes and neighbouring countries, and what makes mediation practised in this region distinguishable from others around the world is the respect both parties give to the mediator, making it difficult for parties to withdraw from the process or terminate mediation.

With mediation in high demand in the region, lawyers and other professionals are also driven to become mediators’ due to three things: 

  • They want to add a new product to their service offering
  • They yearn for the challenge of doing something new and intellectually challenging
  • They want to get paid for doing mediations

To be recognised and used as a mediator, we have established top tips for aspiring mediators: 

1.    Training 

An aspiring mediator needs to get ahead of the competition. Do more training on mediation techniques and communications skills. A commitment to invest further time and money is necessary if you want to be a practising mediator. 

Accreditation by bodies like RICS is a bit like passing your driving test. It signals that you have the essential skills required to be a mediator. You understand the role and you are far less likely to cause damage than someone who is untrained.  Through the RICS ACRE Mediation training, you will be guided through a carefully planned programme of learning designed to:

  •  Accelerate learning in a dynamic and fun way
  • Equip you to mediate in a variety of commercial situations
  • Build a high level of knowledge, skill and experience.

The full training programme consists of five full days divided into two separate modules. It is designed to help delegates build their negotiation skills, giving them the opportunity to practise management of disputing parties, as well as techniques for avoiding conflict escalation. 

2.    Practical Experience

If you want to be a mediator, you must start the process of expanding your theoretical knowledge, and your limited practical experience obtained in training simulations. Get your hands dirty on pro bono and community mediations. Use your networking to grab hold of some experienced mediators who can act as your mentors. Persuade them to invite you to act as observer or co-mediator on their disputes. 

3.    Networking

Join groups and participate in mediation clubs and forums. Get your name out there. Hang out with practising mediators and learn from their experiences. Swap business cards and then follow up. You could take experienced mediators out to lunch and use the opportunity to find out how they got to where they are. Do some research on bodies in your region that offer opportunities for networking and learning. The message is: “network, network and network”.

4.    Subject Matter Expertise

Nowadays, parties usually want mediators who really understand their disputes, and are qualified in the subject matter. They see the role of the mediator as more than simply managing an exchange of information.

Expertise in the substantive area in dispute also allows a mediator to quickly focus on the issues in dispute. A mediator who is familiar with technical aspects of a dispute can swiftly grasp the important facts and reduce the number of issues to those that really matter.

In summary, the top tips for commercial mediators are; to network and put the hours in to improve your knowledge and experience as a professional.

With thanks to Martin Burns, this article was first published in the UK in 2017.

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