So, What is Transformative Mediation?

Apr 28, 2021

Let’s start with what is mediation in the first place because there are many misconceptions about it.

Mediation is a conflict resolution process, not a legal process. It aims at encouraging, supporting and inspiring those who don’t know how to handle difficult and sometimes adverse situations with grace and dignity. Transformative mediation is an evolved form of traditional mediation that not only allows space for parties to talk but also help guide them towards a sustainable resolution and action plan. Knowing what to do after the mediation session is one of the key components of successful transformative mediation.

Transformative mediation helps not only with conflicts but can help coach decision makers (leaders, business owners, team leads, executives, managers…) on how to handle and address difficult conversation with grace without escalating situations into conflict which can turn into a costly litigious affair.

Transformative mediation applies an intersectional lens to any situation, often bringing into the conversation advisors and consultants in different areas of expertise to create a comprehensive approach that will create lasting effects. This way, a transformative mediator (such as myself) works with diverse teams of specialists and is more than just the person listening to grievances and taking notes. This is how Not In My Colour brings more to the discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion and also helps execute the actions needed to create the peaceful resolution, for what are goals without action? Where is the longevity of the resolution without the work that follows the mediation session?

There is a myriad of ways in which transformative mediators can be of service to their community.

Transformative Mediation can offer you:

  • Workable and sustainable solutions that work for YOU.
  • Restored interpersonal trust, belonging and fairness in the workplace and community engagement.
  • Intersectional (Multidisciplinary) lens to both addressing issues and finding equitable solutions.
  • Empathic support on the road to creating inclusive and equitable spaces.
  • Improved community relations and brand standing.
  • Validation and confidence to be able to make decisions in the right direction.

As you can tell, there’s more to mediation than you may have thought. It’s both a tool and a journey. It can also help provide clarity when you don’t know how to tackle a situation or difficult conversation. Because before you start on your journey, it helps to know where you are and where you are going.

A mediator is also more than a third party that sits back and listens, although there’s undeniably a lot of opportunity and potential in actively listening and holding space for others. A mediator is there to ensure that the right kind of and very necessary conversations happen, in a safe and equitable way.

This makes the role of the mediator more than just a nebulous person sitting in on your conversations. As a transformative mediator myself I work very diligently to create, foster and maintain safe spaces where the most challenging of conversations happen. I ensure no voice is left behind as I move the conversations along in the direction you want it to go. It’s not about how much time it takes and not about efficiency, it’s not about getting it over with nor being done with this.

The process often involves joint sessions with the parties, as well as group sessions and discussions. When I work with a client I always make sure to get a clear picture of the goal but also the reality of the situation in its current state. We make a plan together on how to the session will run, for how long and who else might be needed on the team of advisors to create the inclusive and equitable resolution going forward.

Healing takes time and action, not just promises behind closed doors. And just as healing takes time, so do people take time to truly open up once they see they are in truly safe spaces that listens and values their voice and health, ACTIVELY. We’ve all been in situations where we were promised a listening ear and respect but got none.

We live and work in places that have put the quest to efficiency above everything and only now are we starting to see that not only did we not achieve efficiency but many of our colleagues, family, neighbors and OURSELVES are burned out.

The common thread is always a commitment to try and action to support the commitment. A promise to do change is not enough after decades of promises. Transformative mediation takes this info account and works with specialists in other disciplines to bring about the kind of healing  and growth that lasts.

What’s more, with a transformative mediator by your side, you can build new structures where inclusivity and equity are not just buzz words but are truly weaved into the fabric of your workplace culture.

So, next time when you hear about transformative mediation, remember it’s more than just about the conflict.

Let me know, did you ever have a transformative mediator on your team? Have you ever worked with a mediator before? If so, what was your experience? Are you reading this thinking “Aha! So that’s what transformative mediation is?

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Anna Robson

*A word of caution though, not everyone who offers mediation services are certified mediators in the province of Ontario.