Mediation FAQs

Welcome to our Mediation FAQ’s page.

This section contains answers to the various questions that we regularly get asked about mediation. If you have a question about mediation and it is not included here, please contact the TCM National Mediation Helpline on 0800 294 9787 and we would be delighted to assist. You never know, your question and our answer may even end up on this page.

TCM have been mediating and training mediators since 2001. Our depth of knowledge, our passion and our values ensure that every party involved in mediation is treated with the highest levels of integrity and care. Having designed the FAIR Mediation Model ™ our mediation services are well structured, well organised and well delivered. We have an outstanding team of mediation experts who deliver lasting and constructive results for companies across the UK and increasingly overseas.

Mediation is a process of dispute resolution in which an impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates a series of private and joint meeting with the parties to identify a mutually acceptable and appropriate resolution. Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process which addresses the underlying (root) causes of conflict or tension. Mediators create the conditions for dialogue using a non-adversarial, non-partisan approach. The final outcome of mediation is agreed by the parties, not the mediator.

Mediation can be used by anyone who is experiencing a conflict or a dispute at work. If you wish to use mediation, it is generally advisable to speak with your manager or HR Officer who can make the necessary arrangements. Alternatively, please call the NATIONAL WORKPLACE MEDIATION HELPLINE 0800 294 97 87 to discuss your needs in absolute confidence.

Mediation tends to last for one full day. However in more complex cases, or cases involving more than two parties, it may last for up to two or three days.

Each Total Conflict Management mediator is fully trained, certified and experienced. Each mediator works within TCM’s exacting practice standards and the new European Standards for Mediators. All mediators are members of the Professional Mediators Association (PMA)

No. Mediators do not tell parties what to do. Mediators do not judge who is right or wrong nor do they impose a settlement or solution. However, mediators may ask all parties challenging and difficult questions during mediation relating to the nature of the conflict, the impact of the conflict and the steps required to reach a resolution.

Whilst we recognise that parties may wish to have someone with them, the mediators will create an environment where parties do not need to bring anyone else to support them. If parties do wish to bring someone with them, this is only possible during the first meeting with the mediators. TCM mediators do not encourage anyone other than the parties to be involved during the later stages of mediation.

Yes, we will check with you at the outset that you have entered into the process freely and voluntarily. We do not force, trick or coerce people to engage in workplace mediation.

Yes. Parties are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before mediation commences. TCM mediators do not disclose anything that has been said during mediation. If agreed by both parties, TCM mediators provide a copy of the final agreement to the person who requested mediation, to enable that person to continue to manage the situation. TCM mediators destroy all notes from the mediation at the end of the process. Other than a copy of the agreement, we do not keep any records of the mediation process. TCM mediators will not provide evidence at any subsequent internal processes or at Employment Tribunal (ET)

Mediation takes place in a neutral venue comprising of three rooms. Each party has their own private room for the entire day and there is a separate room for the joint meetings. For mediation work in and around London, we recommend the purpose built mediation facilities at the UK Mediation Academy. For mediation work outside London, we have access to a network of purpose built mediation suites across the UK.

Having separate meetings with the mediator gives all parties the chance to talk about the conflict from their point of view. The mediator listens to what all parties say and they explore how party’s feel, what their concerns are and what their underlying needs are. The mediator, and the parties, explore the conflict from three perspectives: 1) the past, 2) the present and 3) the future. Having listened to all sides, the mediator will propose an agenda for the joint meeting.

At the end of mediation, the parties will hopefully have reached a resolution to the dispute including a number of points of agreement. These will be typed up and given to the parties (usually on the same day).  TCM offers ongoing support and the mediator will contact all parties at one, three, six and twelve months after mediation to ‘check in’ and evaluate progress. In some cases, we also offer further mediation meetings. We have a freephone number that all parties, their managers or HR Officers can call if help is required to maintain the agreement – 0800 294 97 87

Yes – last year TCM’s mediators achieved a resolution in over 90% of the cases referred to us. However, for mediation to work it requires a commitment from all parties. By entering into mediation with the right mindset – with a willingness to listen to each other; to be mutually respectful; to challenge and be challenged and to seek a new way of working together – there is every chance that mediation will work.

Often in mediations we find common labels being used to express a parties perceptions on treatment from another party.

Most parties are unaware or unable to express their needs or sense of loss in a situation, so they turn to familiar and comfortable uses of language to express how they feel, like “bullying”.  The perception may be they’ve been treated unfairly, they are being managed out of the business or a variety of other opinions, and often are unable to express these experiences into feelings (unappreciated, undervalued, isolated, scrutinised and micro-managed) so “bullying” is often used to express those feelings or unmet needs.

As a mediator, our role is not to ascertain whether there is bullying or not, but for the party to be extremely clear in their opinions, and the treatment that they have received is actually bullying.

Now this will be difficult to explore if two parties do not wish to mediate…

Which brings us onto the next point:

One of the key foundations for mediation is that it is a entered into voluntarily by both parties. If both parties do not wish to enter into mediation and work towards a mutually agreeable ‘solution’, then mediation would not be suitable. But….

That doesn’t mean that we give up on bringing the parties together…..

How we would tackle this situation is to have an experienced (neutral 3rd party) mediator contact the clients for an informal discussion about possible resolution.  We wouldn’t go into any details of the conflict, but just an information and scoping call so that the mediator can explain in detail ‘what mediation is’, ‘the benefits of mediation’ and  the ‘role of a mediator in mediation and whether this would be a viable option.’ (Often people are resistant to mediate as they are not really sure what it is and how it may be able help.

“It is an informal, private and confidential meeting where you get the opportunity to discuss the important issues around your relationship at work. It is not a formal process and no expectations are placed on either of you to reach an agreement. It is just an ‘opportunity’ to clear the air”….Would you like the opportunity to discuss with X….?” )

But assuming you have already attempted this, we would begin posing questions used on our Practical Mediation Skills course called BATNA/WATNA/MLATNA.

In essence we will be looking for the party to think about the consequences of the situation continuing if it is not able to be resolved (get worse, somebody leaves, they leave, dismissed, off sick etc)

The question we would ask each party is “What are the benefits of staying in this conflict?” (None!)

What are the positive outcomes if you’re able to have a discussion and look at ways to improve the relationship?” (a few)…Well mediation might be the opportunity for both of you to look at ways in which those positive outcomes to be realised…What have you got to lose?”

If parties are still resistant, then at this stage mediation may not be suitable ‘right now’. We would give a few days reflection and then contact parties again to see if there has been a shift in thinking.

But at all times, parties have to enter into it voluntarily, even if they have low expectations, they have to want to try and sort it out between themselves.