Takeaway from ICMC’s Webinar on Managing Mediator Emotions

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The Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) organized a webinar on Tuesday, 21 April, 2020, themed “Managing Mediator Emotions.” The speaker, Dr. Agada Elachi is a practising lawyer called to the Nigerian bar in 1999. He holds a doctorate degree in Public Policy and Administration specializing in Terrorism, Mediation and Peace (Walden, U.S.A), and a Master’s degree in Law. Agada is an ADR expert with a bias for mediation and arbitration. He holds the fellowship of several professional bodies including the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (Nigeria) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK). He also holds a diploma in international commercial arbitration. He is a certified trainer in Mediation, Arbitration, and conflict resolution processes generally. As a mediator, he has been engaged in the resolution of a broad range of disputes such as banking and financial matters, inheritance and testamentary issues, and family mediation just to mention a few. He is also a certified professional in managing workplace conflict. He is an ECOWAS and Clingendael certified trainer in Mediation and Dialogue processes.

Dr. Elachi started with a quote “when dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic but we are dealing with creatures of emotions, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

He explained the role of the mediator in mediation and emphasized that a mediator has no right or any position to decide for the parties what the outcome will be, but it is the sole responsibility of the parties to decide the outcome; the mediator is to guide them in their own interest.

He further stated that the loyalty of a mediator is to both parties not a single individual and, in this manner, a mediator uses the following tools;

  1. Questioning (open ended/closed),
  2. Framing and Reframing (assisting the parties to understand the outcome which makes them feel better),
  3. Listening (both the body language and others),
  4. Paraphrasing,
  5. Summary (keep to let the parties that you are following),
  6. Acknowledging and Validation,
  7. Caucusing.

Furthermore, mediators should not exhibit the following inhibitors; personality types, communication blockers, cultural orientation, awareness of own biases (perception), assumption and prejudices.  As a result of all this, there are common emotional mishaps in mediation a mediator must be aware and help him/herself with, such as; nice person attraction, quiet person attraction, pre-judgmental, being judgmental, solution provider, inability to listen actively, temptation to offer help, opinion or advice, assumption, prejudices, the influence of own past experience and impatience (the need to move the process along as allowing parties time to vent).

In summary, the golden guide of a mediator is confidence. He/she must be a master of his/her emotions and not interfere with the process, knowing that the main job of a mediator is guiding the parties through a process in a way that they will reach a satisfactory agreement by themselves.

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