Over the past few decades the practice of mediation has enjoyed increasing acceptance across the world. It has been used to resolve conflicts in lots of differing contexts ranging from families to schools, communities, workplace and commercial disputes. Mediation affirms the general premise that most people appreciate fairness and want to do what is right. The work of the mediator is simply to facilitate that by helping the parties concerned to better understand one another and work out a mutually agreeable solution.
The mediation process thus fosters connection and communication while providing a constructive alternative for resolving conflicts. It’s easy to see that mediation is more than just a profession; it is a powerful tool for value reorientation and social change. Mediation fosters life skills such as active listening and empathy thereby appealing to nobler motives which might have been submerged by past disappointment, hurt and pain.
Reconciliation of opposing factions in unsettled communities, reduced incidents of bullying among students and congenial solutions to heated commercial disputes are some of the inspiring outcomes of the mediation process. However, in spite of the overwhelming evidence in favour of mediation, lots of people are yet to see the benefits. Rather, they allow conflicts to simmer or degenerate unnecessarily. This points out the need for mediators to actively preach the ‘gospel of peace’ while also modelling the qualities of an ideal mediator for the larger society to follow.
The need becomes even more important in light of increasing globalisation. We are more likely now than ever to live and work with people whose perspectives on various issues differ significantly from ours. How do we have a productive relationship and one that is devoid of strife in such contexts? More often than we would like to admit, our disposition to people is affected by preconceived ideas and stereotypes especially when there are differences in religious convictions, cultural ties, political affiliations and general worldview.
Since these are issues that we have to deal with in everyday life, it is obvious that the practice of mediation should not be just another profession neither should it be a set of skills to be deployed in the workplace or some other formal context alone. Rather, it should be regarded as a core value and an important life skill that everyone ought to imbibe. Mediators should actively infiltrate all segments of the society with a deliberate mission to infuse this new mindset that fosters connection and understanding.
By encouraging public discourse on the values of mediation, we can break down walls of hatred and create a more tolerant society. The education sector presents a particularly great opportunity to make this happen by implementing school mediation programs where students are trained as peer mediators. The skills learned in this process will equip the younger generation with sterling character and a refined perspective that will prepare them for a life of positive influence and impact.Adefunke Akoni is an Alternative Dispute Resolution advocate whose objective is to mediate and be a peace maker across the globe. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or visit her blog at www.thearbitrationhub.org