Mediation -- About Rude Behavior

"We want to be sure you won't allow bad behavior during mediation. We have been in that type of meeting before. We were told it would be healthy. It was not healthy. It was demeaning." No problem. I agree. And because I agree I am about to get into trouble with some of our readers. Perhaps. No, not perhaps. Very likely. But that's okay.

Allowing participants a full range of untethered comments and unrestrained conduct during workplace mediations is not conducive to problem solving. At least in my experience it isn't.

Rules of conduct should be established early. And I suggest that a review of expectations for behavior take place before mediation begins.

One of the best approaches I have found for shaping conduct is to hold discussions between the mediator and each of the participants separately. This doesn't take long, even when there are several individuals involved. And adding in a quick reminder of the rules during mediation introductions is wise.

(A 60 Second Update from Mediation Resolves on conduct can be found here.)

Concensus can be reached on allowable behavior when the mediator takes the lead. To do otherwise, or to dismiss the idea of civility, and proceed in an atmosphere of 'everything goes because everything heals' is a disservice to the individuals, the process, and the hopes of constructive outcomes.

What I haven't figured out is whether this approach of expecting courtesy is a minority opinion -- or is it the mainstream view? I fear rude behavior is pop culture today, perhaps even a societal shift.


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.