What Can You Learn from Mediation Training?

by Mary Kay Turner

“Yes, I’ve heard of mediation, but I don’t really know what it is.” “I really don’t understand how mediation training could help me.”If you could have made one of those statements, this article will bring more light to the subject.

Mediators are trained to help other people find solutions to their conflicts by being neutral, listening carefully, learning about the conflict, and brainstorming many different possible solutions to the conflict.

The ground rules of mediation help us to attack the problem rather than another person, to treat each person with respect, and to use words that are helpful in building solutions.

First, we affirm that conflict is a normal part of life; whenever two people are together, there will be disagreements. Many times a person will even have internal conflict, trying to decide on a course of action. What is important is to handle the conflict constructively.

The training provides opportunity to learn about different styles of dealing with conflict, to recognize the styles that are used in conflicts by one’s self and others, and to understand that different styles might be appropriate in different situations. Conflict styles range from avoiding conflict to seeking conflict, giving in or demanding another person follow one’s wishes, with different concerns for the issues and the relationship.We look at and evaluate communication behavior. For this we teach skills to listen actively to hear what another person is saying, and to restate what was said so that the person who made the statement feels understood.

We look at ways to express feelings using I-messages without accusations. Trainees practice these skills. Helpful communication is specific and does not include namecalling nor words like always and never. We find and talk about statements that block or shut down communication. Using these skills can help pull out the issues at the root of the conflict.

In order to have a win/win solution to a conflict, each person in the conflict has to be able to state specific things that would improve the situation. Each person may state items that are important to improve the conflict and be willing to accept items the other person needs that are less critical from that individual’s perspective. Both also may be willing to use skills learned to improve the situation and the relationship. We also look at many possible solutions to find what would work best for all involved in a specific conflict. Skills learned in training help people learn to locate these pieces that help in finding resolution.

People learn best by doing things. So in mediation training we look at different tools and skills for effective communication and we provide role play scenarios so people have the opportunity to practice the skills they are learning. These communication skills may be helpful in daily interactions with family and coworkers.Mediation Services of Adams County will conduct a 22-hour Mediation Training March 20-22, 27-28. If you would like more information about Mediation, this training and available scholarships, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County at 717-334-7312, mediationac@yahoo.com or check out our new website, http://www.mediateadams.org.

Mary Kay Turner is a Board Member and also a mediator for Mediation Services of Adams County.