This chapter focuses on the concerns in mediation practices, and specifically focuses on four concerns: Appropriateness, use of caucus, confidentiality, and ethics (p. 117).
Appropriateness refers to the ability to use mediation effectively in order to work to resolve a dispute. In some cases, such as these where disputants are being coerced to mediate, have a long standing reinforced distrust that mediation may fail to bypass, or where legal issues, abuse, or immense sums of money are involved, mediation may not be the best choice, though it may be a good starting point for beginning to encourage communication between parties on their way to other dispute resolution methodologies (pp. 117-121).
The use of caucus is a concern because it potentially works against the most effective aspects of mediation, e.g. bringing parties to the table, and engaging in face to face communication with openness and transparency (pp. 121-123).
Ethics of course is always a concern in mediation, since trust, openness, transparency, and commitment require that all parties are there in good faith, that the mediator is not leading the process, nor biased for or against any of the disputants. It is important that mediators are always asking themselves if they have lost their impartiality, and if so to remove themselves from the process or if possible, refuse their own biases and question their own assumptions (pp. 123-126).
Finally, confidentiality is a concern because without it, disputants may be reluctant to participate at all. In order to gain trust, open up, and focus on positive outcomes, it is important to be able to get all relevant information out on the table. That can only happen in some cases if that information goes no further than that room. The mediators must let everyone know up front (in the introduction) that information recorded during the mediation, (other than the agreement itself, if reached), will be destroyed and carried no further (pp. 127-129).
Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition. (2nd), 198. Waveland Press.
Personal Experiential Influence:
The appropriateness of mediation in context is an interesting topic. I can think of several situations in which mediation would have been more or less appropriate in my life: Small hallway skirmishes in high school might have benefited from mediation, and small jobs in design, where I lost thousands of dollars in unpaid consultant fees, would definitely have benefited from the parties having the opportunity to voice their opinions. I’ve also encountered conflict in the car, where someone cuts me off, or fails to signal – it wouldn’t be apropos to bring that party into a mediation session, for instance. In the design case, We missed our day in court because we decided to stay out of court and use an conflict avoidance approach, but we might have agreed to mediation.