Rebuilding relationships through dialogue

“How do you restore broken relationships if parties are kept in separate rooms during the mediation?” I recall a colleague asking me some years ago when I described the typical mediation process used in commercial mediation. She certainly made me think about my practice, which increasingly involves mediating workplace disputes where employees have fallen out for one reason or another but the relationship is likely to be ongoing. Keeping people talking directly to one another in  a joint meeting can be very challenging for the mediator and the parties. If the mediator is equipped with the right skills and is clear about the purpose of the meeting, and the parties know before hand what process to expect and can prepare for this, facilitating a dialogue directly between the parties can be hugely effective in resolving conflict and rebuilding relationships.

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