Frequently Asked Questions
What is Community Mediation?
Community Mediation offers you the opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with the person or group with which you have a conflict or dispute. You are given the chance to give your perspective on the conflict, but you are also expected to listen to the other person's perspective, in order to understand it.
Our mediators don't decide who is right and who is wrong, give advice, or decide on the outcome. You work with the person or group you are in conflict with to create an agreement that satisfies everyone involved.
What are the benefits of Community Mediation?
- People are generally more satisfied with solutions they have agreed upon together, rather than solutions that are imposed by an outside decision-maker
- The mediation process is often a faster way to resolve disputes
- Everyone is given a chance to have a conversation where they feel heard and understood
- Creative solutions are generated that are tailored to the needs of everyone involved
- Mediation can often preserve a working relationship, which may not be possible in other decision-making procedures where a winner and loser are the result
- The termination of a relationship can be done on more friendly terms through mediation
- Compliance with the terms of the settlement is more likely, since mediation often results in custom-made procedures for how decisions will be carried out
Who attends a mediation session?
Anyone who needs to be present to make decisions on the issue, or to support others in making decisions, should attend the mediation. Depending on the issue, this could include:
- property managers
- board members
- regular members
- support workers
In short, anyone affected by the situation, or whose input is required to resolve the problem, may attend.
How does Community Mediation work?
MRJC has expert, highly skilled volunteer and staff case developers who answer all inquiries about the Community Mediation program. They help people to examine their situation and decide whether the Community Mediation process is right for them.
When someone wants to go ahead with Community Mediation, the following steps are taken to set up a mediation meeting:
- Each party is contacted separately, by mail or telephone, to discuss the possibility of mediation
- The suitability of mediation for the situation and the openness of the parties involved to the mediation process is assessed
- If all parties agree to mediation, the case developers work separately and equally with each individual to prepare them for the mediation meeting
- The time and location of the mediation is scheduled
- Volunteer mediators are assigned to the case
- The parties and mediators meet at the assigned location and time
What happens in mediation?
The mediators start the conversation by introducing themselves and explaining their role. They also present to the participants the guidelines that they think are important to having a good discussion.
Next, each person is asked to describe briefly what she or he would like to talk about in the mediation. The mediators then help the participants create a list of topics that need to be discussed, and select the topic to discuss first.
One after another, all the participants are invited to talk about how they see the situation, how they are being affected by it, and what is important to them.
An exchange of thoughts and feelings is then encouraged, to ensure that each person understands the other's views (It's important to realize that understanding doesn't necessarily mean agreement; in mediation, the goal is to get as complete a picture of each person's perspective as possible).
Near the end of the meeting, the mediators help the participants to brainstorm some creative options, and choose the one that will work best for everyone involved. Participants can choose whether or not they would like a written agreement that outlines who will do what and when.
Who are the mediators?
MRJC's Community Mediation Program volunteer mediators are trained professionals that have extensive experience in conflict management. Some of the mediators on our roster also mediate in other programs in Edmonton. These talented people believe in the value of community members living in harmony.
Our program follows a "co-mediation model". This means we assign two mediators to each case. We believe this maximizes the benefits both parties gain from the mediation experience.
How long does a mediation session take?
A typical mediation involving four people will take anywhere from two to three hours. This allows time for each person to share his or her perspective, to brainstorm creative solutions, and to draft an agreement that is beneficial for everyone.
If more people are involved, more time is needed. More complex situations may require multiple meetings; this can be negotiated during the first mediation session.