My first experience

Recently, I did my first telephone mediation. This was a case where the court had ordered mediation to take place prior to a court hearing. It was a commercial dispute over an unpaid invoice. Because of the geographical distance between the parties, the nature of the dispute and the cessation of an ongoing relationship, one of the parties requested telephone mediation.

At the point at which the mediation took place, the dispute had been running for 2 years. On the phone, both parties had independently expressed to me a desire for the dispute to be put behind them.

I made my first call at 8.15am and by 11.00am we had finished. Settlement terms had been reached, faxed documents signed and the court notified. Whilst I would love to take the credit for the dispute coming to an end so swiftly, it couldn’t have happened without the willingness of the parties. For those that might have an interest in the mechanics of telephone mediation, perhaps I can cover this on another occasion. What really struck me about this case was that a 2 year dispute could be wrapped up in under 3 hours.

I woke up at 5.00am the next morning and the mediation was the first thing on my mind. Both parties had wasted precious time, money and energy stoking the flame of the dispute to keep it ablaze for 2 years. Sometimes, all people need is a conduit to get discussion started and facilitate progress. It reminds me a little of how engines had to be hand cranked before starter motors were invented. No doubt you can think of a situation in your organisation where a discussion is in need of a crank to get it started.

I also thought it must have been a relief for the parties to wake up the day after in the knowledge that the dispute was now behind them.

This was another example of why I am so passionate about the process of mediation. It works. Not every time, but most.

By the way, just to be clear. Telephone mediation worked here because of the nature of the dispute. I do not believe that telephone mediation should be promoted as an alternative to face to face discussions in workplace, employment or general relationship disputes.

Finally, just in case you missed it, I am delighted that David MacLeod will be joining us on our employee engagement webinar at 2.00pm on Thursday 20th May. David is the author of the government’s review into the business case for employee engagement and continues to lead this work. He is a great public speaker.  Please click here for more information.

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