Letter to A Young Mediation Enthusiast
BY TING-KWOK IU
“One of the most valuable life lessons in mediation for the mediators is how to be non-judgemental.” reads Ting-Kwok IU article on the Kluwer blog. In his ‘Letter to a Young Mediation Enthusiast’ he shares his preliminary thoughts on how to be a successful mediator. Do you agree with his findings?
Dear Young Mediation Enthusiast,
Thank you for writing to me again. Time really flies as my last letter to you was written ten months ago on 2 December 2021.
It is most encouraging to hear that you have been doing mediation cases of different nature and you find the work as a family mediator most satisfying and meaningful. I am glad that you enjoy your work and am proud of your achievements.
In your letter, you said you are shocked by a recent situation where a stepmother had displayed explicit disapproval behaviour when her grown-up stepson suggested that a mediator be engaged to help resolve their family disputes. You do not think that the suggestion itself is ridiculous and you feel upset that the stepmother and her husband still think that they could resolve the conflict without pulling in a neutral third-party professional. In your letter, you have indicated that you like to hear from a mediator with some years of practice.
Thank you very much for your trust in me. As mentioned in my previous letters, I do not have a model answer for you and other fellow mediators. What has been set out below are merely some of my preliminary thoughts:
1. A professional should not express any opinions on what is reported in the news or on the social media platforms. The reason is that if one is too keen to give unsolicited opinions on matters that he/she has no full knowledge about, that person may be perceived negatively by others who will probably think that the mediator is judgemental, indiscreet and thinking too highly of himself/herself. No mediator would like to have such an image as that will certainly undermine his/her career as a professional neutral.
2. A professional mediator must be able to demonstrate that he/she is always ready to take on a new case no matter how small the chance may be. As such, the expression of a mediator’s view on the relevant issues in particular when it is made in the public domain is in substance conflicting himself/herself out from the possible appointment.