The Observer and the Observed: How much should a mediator know about the case before mediation begins?

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 9.54.15 PMWhen I take on a mediation case, it is my belief that I don’t need to know anything about who the parties are, or anything about the situation the parties find themselves in, in order to be a good mediator.

Actually, if I did know anything about the participants or their situation before the session begins, I would become partial.  I would see the people with different eyes.

To be a truly neutral observer, I need to know nothing at all about the case, the participants, or the details.  My job is not as the expert in the room — that’s what the parties are.  The parties themselves are the experts in the room.  They may have a little trouble talking to one another about their situation.  That’s why I’m there:  to keep the parties talking to one another, and when there’s a bump in the road, a point where communication comes to a halt, that’s what I facilitate.

Here’s a beautiful example of why the mediator needs to be a totally blank slate:


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