I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they are thinking about adding mediation to their existing career because
“I already mediate all the time, anyway.”
This is such a common phrase that I have started to pay attention to the types of people who say it. Predominantly, I head this phrase from social workers and from parents. I believe this is because mediation is so effective because it uses tools that are intuitive. Active listening, fairness, guiding people to an agreeable solution. These are skills that many people use in their jobs daily.
For those people who feel naturally gifted at these skills then I highly encourage them to continue to study mediation, train, practice, and eventually begin mediating cases.
One thing that I have noticed from watching Fairly Legal is that Kate Reed is so effective at her job, not just because the skills come naturally to her, but also because she is very comfortable with the process. She doesn’t have to waste time thinking about when to consult an expert, what constitutes as legal advice, what is a break of confidentiality, what is an enforceable agreement, and what are the parties real interests. This shows me that she has years of training and practice which, combined with her natural skills, have created a very effective (albeit slightly wacky) mediator.
People tell me, “Since I mediate between my teenagers all the time anyway, I decided to open a practice and get paid for it.” This is a cute saying, but I wonder if they really understand the amount of work that it takes to be effective. Do they understand the amount of time it takes to be comfortable with these skills? The amount of training and studying until the knowledge become instinctual? Do they have any idea the amount of marketing and networking it will take them to be successful? And do they have any idea how much bravery and restraint it will take to confront difficult clients and to withhold their own desires for a case?
These are skills that people can learn. But thinking that just anyone can step out one day and be a mediator slightly belittles those who have spent years working towards it.
I have never heard anyone say, “Since I spend all day chopping vegetables, I was thinking I might as well be a surgeon and get paid for it.” Or ” I love to look at clouds in the sky, so I think tomorrow I will be a commercial pilot.” Of course not! Because everyone knows that it will take training and practice.
I think broadening that knowledge to the mediation field will help clients know that seasoned mediators are very effective and often a great alternative to the courtroom, and it will also help rookie mediators know what to expect.