Mediation Awareness Week launched last Saturday with the London Community Mediation Conference #UKMAW2016. The day involved a series of workshops and guest speakers including Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, the series producers of the BBC 2's show 'Mr v Mrs: Call the Mediator' as well as a number of experienced community and workplace mediators .
Liz Stokoe's keynote was particularly compelling. Liz is a psychology professor at Loughborough University where she researches conversation analytics in a variety of contexts. Liz has done alot of work with mediation in particular, studying the way it is typically explained to prospective clients.
Her research reveals alot about the mistakes mediators make when they explain the process and offers a number of actionable ways for mediators to improve their elevator pitch. You might find some of them surprising!
Putting the Client First
Liz gathered vast amounts of recorded conversations from mediation phone services. She looked at those conversations where the user decided to try mediation and those where they didn't, and looked for correlations and trends to see what was influencing the result.
The research goes even further, forensically analysing the tone and pacing of the conversation to better understand how the client reacted to particular things the mediator said. She found some very interesting reasons why people reject mediation, which she discusses here:
Ultimately, she found a lack of alignment between what mediators thought was great about mediation and what customers wanted when they were considering mediation.
Mediators are not aggressive marketers by nature. Indeed humility is often touted as a core mediation value. Nonetheless, if we want people to benefit from mediation then we need to start putting the right aspects of the process in the spotlight.
Impartiality - A Dirty Word
A classic example is mediator impartiality. This is a core value that mediators understand to be crucial to the process. But Liz's research reveals that customers aren't interested in impartiality. If anything, they want someone who is on their side.
So what do we focus on instead? How about the savings in time and cost and the chance to have the other party to finally listen and understand their concerns.
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