We have collaborated for the past five years to find evidence from neuroscience that can help mediators be more effective. Our goal has always been to provide practicing mediators with clear advice on how to improve their skills. Accordingly, we begin by offering our Top Ten Best Practices for Mediators.
Future posts will elaborate on each of these and in time we will explain where our disciplines overlap and how we came to our conclusions.
- Start mediations with a short caucus session with each party immediately before joint session (“Early Caucus”).
- To reduce stress, focus at the start of every mediation on:
- Building trust and rapport,
- Fostering a sense of control for parties, and
- Establishing an atmosphere of security and calm.
- Acknowledge and normalize stress as well as emotions.
- Give parties time (at least 30 minutes) to recover from strong emotions and stressful situations before engaging in decision-making activities.
- Recommend journaling as a way for parties to deal with stress before mediation and during caucus sessions with the other party.
- Encourage parties to name their emotions rather than labeling them.
- Use strong emotions to uncover underlying interests.
- Reduce venting to avoid increasing stress.
- Consider the effects of testosterone levels.
- Consider the powerful impact of gender and cultural differences.
The discussion of the Top Ten in our next four posts will focus on The Start of Mediation (1-3), Managing Stress (4-5), Managing Emotions (6-8), and Sex and Culture Differences (9-10).