A Career in Mediation: What You Need to Know

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If you have a passion for helping others and strong listening and communication skills, then a career in mediation and conflict resolution may be what you’re looking for.

In recent years, work in the mediation and conflict resolution area has been on the rise. It may seem like a vague job prospect, but nonetheless it can be a very rewarding opportunity for those who are suited to this type of work. But what exactly does it entail?

Below we look at this growing sector and discuss what is involved, and how to enter this field.

What is mediation and conflict resolution?

Put simply, it’s the resolution of conflicts between two or more parties. If a conflict arises, the parties may ask a third-party (mediator) to help them to come to some kind of agreement for their issues. Whether they are formal or informal disputes, a mediator can often be a huge advantage to those involved to help them reach an agreeable outcome.

What is involved?

A mediator doesn’t make decisions for those involved. Rather, a mediator facilitates the negotiation and settlement of disputes. The mediator will be there to support both sides of the argument and assist them in coming up with their own agreement. Those who are seeking a resolution will voluntarily seek the advice of a mediator.

Once a mediator is sought, usually face-to-face meetings between those involved will take place. The mediator will help each party to see the other’s point of view and from here, come to an agreement. Each person will have the opportunity to discuss their view, feelings and ideas. And once all the information is shared, the ultimate goal is then to come to an agreement that best meets the interests of all parties.

The mediator will often be the person who helps each party make their side of the story heard and break down any barriers. They will then also help each party to come up with potential solutions, Once the solutions are laid out, those involved can decide on a solution together. This may still require some fine tuning and adjustment in order for everyone to be happy with the outcome.

What skills do I need?

Different personal attributes suit different careers. If you have the following personality traits and skills, you may find a career in mediation and conflict resolution is a great choice.

  • Active listening skills – having the ability to actively listen the points of view and feelings of people is an excellent skill to strive for in this career.
  • Questioning and clarifying skills – to help people get the resolution they want, it is important that you completely understand what a person is trying to communicate.
  • Empathy – to be able to understand how people feel in certain situations can help you to become a better mediator
  • Unbiased – one of the key things to being a great mediator is to not take sides. You will need to remain open and fair whilst dealing with varying conflicts in order to reach the best resolution.

Do I need training?

Although it isn’t compulsory to become a mediator, a training course will certainly be highly beneficial to both you and those who seek your advice. Training will introduce you to basic theories of conflict resolution, negotiating and skills and techniques for facilitating problem solving. You will also learn about professional ethics, standards to adhere to and common issues you may face as a mediator.

Many employers will find it desirable that employees hold these skills. Through the Mediation Certificate of Completion offered by the International Career Institute, you are able to receive this training in just a few months.

Once I have completed training, how do I get started?

Most mediators are employed by local and state government, schools and universities, legal service providers, corporations, insurance providers, independent mediation and arbitration businesses or independent mediators.

However, you may choose to work for yourself.

If you choose this path then one of the first things to understand is that you will need to be realistic. You won’t instantly make a full-time living from conflict resolution and it may take some time until you build up your own client base. You will need to first work on marketing and a business plan, to ensure people know who you are and what services you can provide.

From here, you will need to keep practicing. You’re only going to be a better mediator by continuing work as a mediator. A lot of your knowledge and skills will be gained by practicing. You may also be able to ask other mediators to undertake work experience with them to see them work first hand.

A lot of people starting any new venture will continue with their day job until they have enough clients and business to sustain themselves and their livelihood. Once you have gained enough clients to build your business, you can then consider leaving your day job from here. For now, a lot of people start by working from home until their business is able to pay for other aspects such as a commercial lease, office equipment and additional staff.

A good thing to remember…

Not all conflicts will be able to be resolved, even with a highly experienced mediator. This isn’t always the fault of the mediator and can sometimes mean those involved need to re-address the situation at a later date or not at all. The best thing a mediator might be able to do here is to try and understand the underlying issues as to why there appears to be no resolution. Situations that have cultural differences is often a good example where a dispute may not be resolved.

If you have taken the appropriate steps to try and help the situation and those involved, you have completed your role as mediator and will then need to address where the parties will go from here.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in mediation, check out the mediation course available today from ICI Australia.

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