How Transformative Mediation Works in Complaints of Workplace Harassment

Transformative mediation has two main objectives (Bush and Folger (2005) The Promise of Mediation):

1.         Empowerment – enabling the parties to define their own issues and to seek solutions on their own

2.         Recognition- enabling the parties to see and understand the other person’s point of view

This approach:

  • is a progressive rather than a prescriptive one
  • centred on process rather than outcomes
  • by which the mediator responds to what the participants are saying moment to moment
  • by highlighting and amplifying opportunities as they arise
  • to help both parties strengthen their capacity to make informed decisions (Empowerment)
  • while at the same time encouraging them to take into account the other party’s point of view (Recognition)
  • Valuing not just one but both of these objectives is essential
  • just fostering Empowerment could lead to abusing power
  • just encouraging Recognition could lead to abdicating power
  • While reinforcing one aspect, the other aspect cannot be neglected
  • Approached in synergy, each aspect tends to reinforce the other.
  • This approach situates contested events
  • not as isolated problems to be solved one by one
  • but as part of a broader context
  • about which the parties will gain a deeper understanding
  • through their exchange of views in mediation.
  • Thanks to this broadened understanding of the situation
  • gained through acknowledgements, insights and new interpretations,
  • the parties can make and consider proposals and undertakings
  • which reflect their free will and informed consent.
  • Paradoxically, the less the mediator pushes the parties towards settlement
  • the more an agreement is likely to emerge when the time is ripe
  • from the transformation of the quality of the parties’ interaction
  • both in mediation and in their future relations.

Exerpted from Mediating Complaints of Workplace Harassment: a Transformative Approach © John Peter Weldon 2009.