In mediation, reaching a mutually satisfactory dispute resolution is fundamental. However, it can be daunting to attain this goal without embracing the underlying concepts. One of the most critical principles is neutrality, which requires the mediator to be unbiased with the disputing parties. The mediator must be positioned to create a balance in the distribution of power to reach a point of fairness.
Being neutral in mediation is vital because:
No. 1: The advocate can embrace a holistic view of a problem. A good mediator must look at an issue from a range of angles and perspectives. They must steer a discussion that generates a resolution for everyone. Neutrality is an important part of this process, given that the advocate must remove the temptation to incline towards a specific side.
It is worth noting that looking at a problem through different lenses may help in determining the right mediation approach. For instance, they may choose to use facilitative or evaluative styles, depending on power imbalances existing in a situation and the parties’ respective needs.
No. 2: The mediator can fulfill their duty without hindrances. A mediator is mandated to help two conflicting sides to develop mutual respect and hence communicate freely. Being biased could generate a space in which the parties may fail to discuss the issue and create amicable solutions.
More so, neutrality is essential in reframing a situation. The conflicting parties may show the willingness to find solutions if the problem is reframed by an unbiased party. They can challenge their internal benchmarks because the problem is presented in a different way.
Even more, the mediator can easily address emotions in conflicts. The emotional tension may create hindrances in communication, given that most people, when in conflict, become reactive and sensitive towards all actions and words. The neutral party acts as the voice of reason in such instances, delivering an atmosphere where effective communication can prevail. When necessary, they can create a platform for the parties to express anger, vent, and gain closure on a matter.
No. 3: It helps prevent interference by the public. Members of the public are more likely to interfere with a negotiation process if they realize that the mediator is biased. They may want to support a particular side, creating an imbalance of power. With neutrality guiding the mediation process, the consensual nature of the outcome is achieved.
No. 4: It ascertains that mediation is a part of the justice process. The goal of every mediation process is to ensure that dispute resolution is reached compellingly. Neutrality paves the way for pure procedural justice, where all parties accept the outcomes.
Notably, most parties opting for a mediation process wish to retain or strengthen their relationships. They desire to research what is best for them and only rely on the mediator to facilitate the process and clarify is-sues. Neutrality ascertains that better relationships are ultimately formed.
No. 5: The mediator can address information gaps. The mediation process can be unsuccessful when such gaps prevail. Indeed, most parties are unable to find solutions because of misinformation and lack of adequate information. The neutral party can identify such issues and collate the right information from the parties. They can achieve this by providing the necessary documents or bringing people with the right information to the process.
Additionally, the mediator becomes a better messenger because they have no direct interest in the mediation’s final outcome. The parties can trust the mediator’s message to the end that they consider the proposals on the table. Indeed, the messenger is always as important as the message. Some ways of delivering relevant information include providing hypothetical scenarios and creating choices for the parties. Ultimately, the parties are encouraged to engage in informed decision-making processes.
IS NEUTRALITY ACHIEVABLE?
While the principle of neutrality is a critical part of attaining the best outcomes in mediation, it may be daunting to put into practice. An advocate must find a balance between applying too little and too much intervention in conflicts. It can be achieved by assessing the power held by each party and finding a way of encouraging effective communication. Doing so will ensure that justice is promoted by considering the interests of all parties involved.