Community Mediation Training FAQ
What kind of mediation is this?
The Mediation Center uses a facilitative mediation style. This means that the mediator manages the mediation process but does not give advice or suggestions. Mediation is non-judgmental and the focus is on the self-determination of the participants. It’s not about being a “tough negotiator”, finding the weaknesses in parties’ arguments, or pushing people to agree. Instead, mediation empowers the participants to find solutions that work for them.
What kinds of conflict will I learn to mediate?
The mediation process we use is widely applicable. We value mediation and conflict resolution because relationships matter, and that’s the focus of our training. While the nature of the conflicts varies widely, the scenarios we use always involved relationships. Parties might be family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, or even just members of the same community. Training does not focus on disputes that are purely transactional, such a insurance settlements or contract disputes between strangers.
What’s the training like?
Well, perhaps most importantly – not boring! Participants tell us that the time flies by. Our style is engaging and experiential. Experiential learning – where you try out skills that you may not yet have a solid handle on and then reflect about your experience – can be exciting, interesting, and sometimes frustrating. We won’t be handing you a step-by-step manual to mediation. Instead, we’ll build your mediation skills step by step while you try them out and reflect along the way. We use discussion, handouts, games, role-plays, videos, music, and other approaches to keep things moving.
What will we do during the training? What’s the agenda?
The training starts on the first day with development of mediator-specific listening skills, developing understanding of the values of mediation, discussion of the causes of conflicts, various approaches to conflict resolution, and the role of the mediator. We want participants to learn new skills and also to reflect and become more aware of their own view and natural approaches to conflict. In the afternoon, we start to role-play the first step of the mediation process which is when the mediator gives and introduction of sorts, explains the process, and answers questions.
The kind of non-judgmental listening we do is unique to mediation, and we spend a good bit of time practicing those skills. This style of listening enables the mediator to work on understanding what’s most important to the parties without judgment, advice, suggestions – even if the mediator cannot personally empathize or agree with what’s being said.
The last three days of the training involve continued skills development and many hours of experimental practice and feedback. All training days include time for role-play practice. Participants learn to analyze their own practice and adherence to the model, give feedback to peers, and receive feedback from the trainer(s). After each practice session, there is time to process with the large group and the trainer. There is little lecture.
At the end of the training, participants should be able to get started as beginner mediators and apply their skills in a variety of settings.
Is there anything I should read beforehand? How do I prepare?
Our training is largely experiential, so we don’t ask participants to come prepared with background information. There are many models of mediation that are used across the country and there are certainly books about how to mediate, but the variation in models may prove more confusing than helpful. For a broader view, we always recommend “Getting to Yes” by William L. Ury and Roger Fisher, which is a classic in the field of interest-based negotiation. While we don’t discuss this book in the training specifically, the concepts are widely applicable.
Do I need to have a certain educational or professional background to participate?
Absolutely not. Training participants are diverse and come from a variety of backgrounds. Participants share a desire to make our community a safer and more peaceful place for everyone. Past participants have included social workers, professors, nonprofit staff, human resources professionals, business leaders, college students, housing development residents, community leaders, police officers, advocates, and community volunteers. Since mediators don’t give advice or made decisions about how conflicts should be resolved, having subject-specific knowledge or expertise is not required – and can sometimes even get in the way. That said, participants may find that some skills are easier than others depending on their background, personality, and personal approach to conflict. Solid listening skills, and open mind, a willingness to try out new skills, openness to being non-judgmental, and respect for others all give a useful foundation for mediation skills.
What can I do with these skills after the training?
It depends, really, on what opportunities you have. For example, an HR professional may use their skills to handle employee disputes. A neighborhood leader may help their neighbors resolve conflict and find creative solutions to problems. A human services professional may help clients or co-workers move through difficult conflicts. Many participants also tell us that mediation training changes the way they interact with their children, partners, and friends.
Sometimes training participants find that they are able to use the full mediation process in their work or life. Others apply skills in less formal situations – listening better to their co-workers, understanding members of a team, and thinking through their own conflicts.
We do use trained mediators as volunteers in our programs. There is more information about volunteering as a mediator here. Please note that our volunteer recruitment process is selective, we do not always have space for new volunteers, and completing the training does not guarantee a spot as a volunteer.
Do I need to attend all 4 days?
Yes. The skills and information build over the course of the training, which lasts from 9am to 5pm on each of the four days. It is not possible to attend only part. On occasion, we have arranged for a participant to attend, for example, the first two days of one training and the last two days of another. Please e-mail us with these sorts of questions.
How often do you offer the training?
Generally three to four times each year. Check the training page of our website for upcoming dates.
Still have questions?
E-mail us at email@example.com.