How do I find the best mediator? Who are the top-rated mediators near me?

February 1, 2019

If you have not been directly referred to a mediator through friends and family or a therapist, accountant or lawyer, many people use reviews on the internet. While reviews are a place to start it should not be the only way you assess who is the right mediator for your circumstances.  General ratings or reviews do not weigh key factors in each profession. Best or top-rated mediators are measured on professional surveys based upon three main factors such as the mediators’

  1. Resolution rate,
  2. Knowledge of and training in the mediation process, and
  3. Fairness and Impartiality.

Once you have narrowed down a list of mediators who are skilled in the field of dispute (matrimonial, family, contract, employment, probate, aging-parent care, etc.) and are able to work where you and or the other person lives you should ask the mediator the following questions:

1) The first question to ask the mediator is, what is your resolution rate?

Top rated mediators have a high-resolution rate.  A Mediators’ ultimate function is to help disputing parties reach common ground and agreement.  This does not mean that disputing parties walk out being “in agreement on all terms” it means that disputing parties have agreed through some “give and take” from each side to settle their dispute on contractual terms that are “mutually acceptable”. No single party has won rather both parties win because they have ended their dispute on the basis of their resolution agreement which reflects the “give and take”. In these cases, mediation could have resolved some or all the issues in dispute.

2) The second question to ask the mediator is, what kind of experience do you have in mediation?

Top-rated mediators are experienced. The degree of experience is certainly a factor in a successful mediation. Experienced mediators will be trained in various methods of mediation including the transformative, directive and facilitative processes. Experienced mediators will know who should be involved in the meetings to make them productive. This could mean that other skilled professionals are included in your process including, accountants, lawyers, actuaries, business valuation or other experts in the field of conflict, they will know what questions to ask, how to identify why barriers in negotiations exist, when to say if the mediation is at impasse, where to guide the process, and how to develop options if negotiations are at a standstill.

Some other questions to ask to find out the mediators’ experience are:

1) How long have you mediated?
2) What methods of mediation training have you received?
3) How many cases have you mediated?
4) Do you involve other professionals in the mediation process?

3) Top-rated mediators are fair and impartial. Typically, fairness and impartiality are experiential. Meaning, it is something that a person experiences while in the process.  While you may be able to gather from a person’s participation in social or political groups their possible biases this information is not necessarily conclusive.  A mediator is trained to be impartial in the face of opposing positions and are meant to separate their own opinions and feelings from those shared at the mediation table. A mediator must not favor any side of the dispute rather the mediator will use techniques through questions to elicit information necessary to unravel barriers in communication.  In this instance the best way to gauge how you feel is through interaction with the mediator, this could be through a consultation meeting or assessing after one or two meetings.  If, at any time, you do not feel heard it is important for you to speak to your mediator and let them know how you are feeling to allow them the opportunity to address your needs. If after this, you still feel uncomfortable it is time to move on.

While a Mediators’ skills are a crucial component, it is not the only factor in achieving a resolution agreement.  Persons involved need to have an open mind to be successful. Otherwise they enter into negotiations looking for reasons why it should not work, why the other person won’t be fair, and then set themselves up for failure.  Remember that you can create your own negative self-fulfilling prophecy.  A prediction you make for yourself that directly or indirectly causes your prediction to come true.  Remember that negative feelings are exhibited in words, behaviors and body language.

Here are some techniques to use to change thinking and actions:

1) Pause and reflect on how you feel.
2 )Change the negative speak or self-talk to positive, for example, change negative speak, “this will never work” to positive speak, “this can work”.
3) Try to see things from the other persons perspective.