Workplace Mediation -- Can It Control Participant Behavior?

Two prominent forums last week were very active with comments regarding who should -- and who should not -- be attending mediations. Views vary. No surprise there.

Regardless of where one falls on the spectrum of mediator influence or control over participants, eventually the mediation takes place. And it is in that real-time setting where participant behaviors and expectations must be set and then monitored.

It is the role of the mediator to set expectations.

It is the role of the participants to honor the rules of conduct and to focus on being productive.

Participants should be advised to be:

  • Prompt -- arrive on time and return from breaks on time.

  • Unplugged -- turn off phones and tablets and avoid outside activities or visitors.

  • Respectful -- towards everyone.

  • Patient -- if they hear the same old things they have heard a dozen times before, that's okay.

  • Creative -- solutions during mediation often are richer and more varied.

  • Open minded -- to new ideas, even when they feel that they have already compromised more than others.

  • Participative -- speak out, be heard, be involved.

  • Good listeners -- great listening includes focusing on the ideas, not the personality speaking.

The outcome of a mediation is dependent upon all participants behaving well and upon the mediator setting the tone and monitoring the discussion.


Thornton Mason is a national dispute resolution consultant and human relations mediator with 25 years of experience resolving over 1200 employee matters. His 60 Second Updates have a current reach of over 750,000 readers. He and Mediation Resolves focus on eliminating formal employee complaints, avoiding internal relationship disputes, preventing grievance backlogs, and restarting stalled labor negotiations.