Recently, during a virtual meeting of community mediators across the nation, I was startled to hear a woman say, “Everyone can be a mediator.” Because Mediation Services offers 22 hours of specialized conflict resolution training, and many of us have had much more, we think of it as a skill developed by learning.

Although some people are better mediators than others, the key points are patience and neutrality. Patience is required to listen fully to both sides, no matter how long it takes to get the stories out. More patience is needed as disputants begin to negotiate, each giving a little, until a satisfying solution is reached. Neutrality, of course, is paramount: there can be no siding with one party or the other, no matter what the mediator really thinks.

Submitted by Janet M. Powers.

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