This article summarizes the Young Minds, Global Voices Conference.
This conference was sponsored by mediate.com in May 2021 in an effort to hear from newer mediators. They discussed obstacles and opportunities in 6 different foci: Diversity, Technology, Funding, Career, Training, and Mental Health Skills. Conference video recordings begin here.
Each section is arranged by: OBSTACLES, OPPORTUNITIES, & QUESTIONS.
Table of Contents:
Lack of an invitation
Not an open door for everyone
Didn’t see that they could join
How to open the door for everyone in training programs?
There is an implicit bias
Lack of trust: don’t trust youth or women
Exploitation of European-style of mediation, culture-diminishing. Donor-who is paying for mediation-needs to allow culture-appropriate mediation process.
India: tendency to do deals with friends, and the process continues for decades. Also, attorneys do not see the value of mediation.
In Europe, hard to be hired unless you are a grey-haired “pigeon.”
In Cameroon, older males are the preferred mediators, but youngers are starting to join the scene.
In Brazil, people do not see a lot of options for resolving conflicts. They go to the judiciary and have the court help them. Most people cannot afford a private mediator.
In many cultures, there is a fear with facing the other party in the dispute. Also, in Greece and Latin America, there is a concern that mediators might not have authority to resolve disputes, so people often turn to police to resolve issues, even if the police are not qualified to resolve this.
In Asia, women are afraid they will be patronized in mediation, that they will not be empowered.
Many mediation models are based on a European style, and are not flexible for honoring other cultures.
In Greece, it can take 7 years to resolve a dispute. Mediation is not encouraged, so many people suffer with disputes instead of feeling that they can resolve their issues.
Youth Peace Talks
Youth leaders—organizing, voting, and designing process
Good idea to see role models—show diversity in leadership positions
Be open to mediation that reflects different cultures, such as Palaba Hut, or Ho’oponopono, or faith-based
Remember—the mediator’s role is not to find the solution, it is your role to help provide a safe space for them, so don’t just create a space that feels safe to you.
Research—academics ask for new ideas
Capacity building—set young people up for success, equipped for diverse conversations
Mediation programs designed with space for additional language, cultures, and process.
Ask young people, “How should we do this?” Not—“I did this, enjoy it.”
Comediations—bring more voices into the room. Normalize comediation as part of the professional mediation process. Bring in a variety of cultures or different ideas in process.
India: developing ADR mechanisms in the juvenile justice system, so that youth voices can be represented in mediation.
Discuss the value that different voices bring: females can be empathic, youth can bring more energy, non-lawyers can be omnipartial, etc.
Support more peer mediation process—write articles promoting the idea.
In Cameroon, everyone is eligible to sit for the dispute resolution exam—regardless of your age—and then you can select your specialty (conciliation, mediation, arbitration, facilitation, etc.). Then people can advertise themselves based on their grade on the exam.
In Brazil, what people are looking for is community mediation centers or court-funded mediation so that there are cheaper options. This will increase accessibility and affordability of mediation.
Bring mediation to social media. Start student mediation competitions in high schools around the world. This will bring awareness when people are young, so they can start to see collaborative processes as the norm.
Mediators should start showing the price difference: Use what you would spend on one session with a lawyer to resolve the entire dispute.
Mediators should begin educating people on basic rights—people can have access to justice. Show people that they are resourceful and knowledgeable.
India: Panchayats—5 respected leaders of the village join to resolve the disputes. Allow more people to be trained in processes like this.
In US, we tend to not recognize the importance of other cultures. Important to begin by asking about what makes this a comfortable process. Important for mediators to be willing to slow down if that is what is comfortable for that culture.
Basic 40-hr mediation trainings should include a session on recognizing other cultures, and discussing other processes for mediation.
Create articles or trainings that discuss neurodiversity and accessibility. Encourage writing competitions that share ideas on these topics.
Create an organization/subgroup for members that need their voices to be heard. This will strengthen their voices, and their humanity/values will be stronger in groups. Circles can begin uniting.
When writing—be intentional about including a diversity of voices. Make a conscious effort to read and quote articles from a variety of authors. This adds a richness to your writing.
Publishing a united message across a variety of platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Sharing the message that mediation represents all voices.
In Lebanon, they are considering adding quotas to mediation centers—that a percentage will have to be young, or female, or non-attorney.
Questions to consider for improving diversity:
Always focus on what makes tech seamless.
Focus on what tech makes life easier for you–AND for your clients.
AI cannot standalone for helping ADR. They can be programmed to reflect an unconscious bias. But if there are people checking, then it can be programmed to overmand an individual’s basis.
Average age of females mediators in UK is 51, Males is 59.
Trust in Security and Privacy in videoconferencing, and emails (not encrypted)
Making mediation sessions more accessible, by having sign language as an option during videoconferencing rather than just subtitles
In in-person meetings, there would be more small talk, helping to make everyone involved more comfortable and familiar. Important to not be too worried about the agenda or scheduling things too close together.
Cost of access in attending meetings, certain things are necessary—devices, services etc. as well as nice to have—good background, lighting, strong connection
Appearance is limited to that one screen, important to take notice of lighting, appearance, audio etc.
Always a chance of someone leaking something, hacking, sharing
It can make us feel guilty that we are not working in hours since it is so easy to continue to do work in our off hours.
Benefits of tech: the ability to bring so many people together. Allows you to gain more perspective. Brings more people to the table.
The biggest benefit of tech is accessibility. Removing the physical barrier. –Also can help to remove the language barrier, and remove the disconnect with the new updates in translation
AI has been very beneficial for ADR, by adding ideas and suggested models. Can be helpful for low-priority or simple disputes, and free up mediators for resolving complex disputes.
Videoconferencing is important for developing rapport.
Electronic File Transfers—also helpful, of course, but necessary to ensure that
You can easily say something to just one party, while being on a call with someone else through private messaging without completely ignoring the other person or compromising confidentiality
We can recognize and acknowledge these issues in subtle ways as well. I've added to my e-mail signature the following line: "My available working hours and your working hours may be different. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside your normal working hours."
AI: 1) creating a computer, 2) connecting a computer to another computer (chatting), 3) advertising (target marketed advertising based on your search), 4) connecting internet to the devices, pouring on the cloud, 5) controlling with our mind (“think call Benjamin”)
"Someone in my college alumnae network mentioned shutting their computer at the end of the day and tying it shut with a ribbon as a sort of end-of-day ritual. (Obviously won't help with a 5:30 p.m. massive request, but, outside of that seems like a nice way to step away)."
Funding Summary: What do I need to fund my mediation training/career? (not necessarily money!). Use social media to market yourself!
Don’t center all of your thoughts on the money
The two points that are difficult are funding your training and your practice.
Think beyond money—how can you get books, training, support, volunteer, etc. This is what you need, and you don’t necessarily need money to get them.
Training funding: scholarships, ADR organizations. What is your goal for training—learn how to mediate, establish a name, make connections?
To receive funding—show people specifically what you will do with the money. What is your objective and how will you achieve this.
Probono trainings to show them what you can do, then charge them next time.
Also look into in-house trainings within your organization
What suggestions for scholarship?
Key challenges: language and accent. Access to resources—internet, bandwidth, laptop, quiet space.
Is funding about money? Only about money?
Mobility—how to reach clients now that mediators have expanded their client base.
Interesting to learn about mediators doing pro bono services.
Concerns about how to get people to trust you.
Jay Patrick Santiago is an amazing facilitator!
Social media, LinkedIn, Twitter. Share personal ideas, pictures of cats, things that make her more human. TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Instagram is huge—people make so many connections on it. Twitter allows you to be more intimate, you can see what’s trending, you don’t have to post a picture.
Market yourself as a Zoom moderator so that you can be a mentee. Market what is unique about you, not as an impediment but why people should hire you.
Be honest and transparent about what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Ask clients about how they want to connect (digital samba, whatsapp).
Ask clients about the process they want to use (mediator, facilitator).
Work with your university—do they have a legal aid center or society, mediation clinic, Ombuds offices? If not, start one.
Do you need a website? Shows professionalism, but only if it is maintained. If not, better to not have it.
Value of a mediator is understanding them.
In using social media, know your target audience and their preferred social media. For instance, Chinese clients generally use WeChat. There is also no harm on being on all platforms. Latin Americans often use DigitalSamba. Many other countries use WhatsApp.
Looking for the right guidance, a masters program or practicum?
No standards: developing a standardized mediation training.
Training courses are too short, and don’t have enough soft skills and practice.
People think that training is one-time, when it should be life-long.
Training is too expensive.
Not being able to get experience.
The 40 hour commitment in one or two weeks is too prohibitive.
Need more diversity for training programs—more inclusion of different approaches.
Funding—training can be very inaccessible, so expensive, and certification process is also expensive.
Not being recognized in multiple settings is frustrating.
Mediation Competitions: very powerful experiences, great for networking
Finding a mentor, very helpful for asking questions
One of the best ways to learn yourself is to offer to be a part of a training. Even mediating or training pro bono.
Offer a free option at mediation centers for new mediators.
Self-paced courses are preferred—with most of the videos being prerecorded and come together for questions and role plays.
Spread mediation training out over multiple weeks, a few hours every other day.
Request that your organization partially funds your mediation training, and then you could be a mediator for them.
Come up with a national and global training standards that all can recognize.
Have a mentor to offer guidance on training.
ADR training as a module in universities for other
Great Careers don’t happen by accident—they require work and planning
Specific is Terrific
BYOB: Build Your Own Brand
Clients do not have awareness of the time, financial, and mental benefits of mediation.
Clients shy away from young mediators. Extreme patronization.
New mediators are not valuing their soft skills.
Brands take a while to build.
So many people are applying, that CVs are not getting noticed.
Be aware not to overbrand. Make sure that you have a story to back up every character you sell.
Certiifications won’t get you noticed.
Client awareness—people didn’t know who I was or why I did this work. I had to take responsibility to get that info out.
Improve client awareness—let them know about the benefits of mediation.
Discuss your age/energy/tech savvy as a benefit.
Understand the different between soft and hard skills, and know how to market both of those.
Brand what is unique about you.
Flood social media with your mediation skills.
BYOB: Build Your Own Brand. Your LinkedIn and Facebook is your resume. Discuss your experience, but also what soft skills did you use to make your case a success.
Look at others’ skill sections on LinkedIn—how have they stated their soft skills.
CVs should be 1-1.5 pages max. Only discuss the relevant skills and opportunities.
Also, keep a life resume, which you constantly update with every conference, paper, etc.
Understand that ADR skills are important in every job –not just for mediation.
You need some way to get clients’ attention, but certifications can convince them to hire you.
Sometimes, you need to describe the feeling that you can create for a company.
Specific is Terrific. – be specific and clear about the work that you do and the work that you don’t do.
Be specific in the skills that you are offering—if you want to be a mentor, suggest a specific way that you can help.
Putting exams on your CV or your mediation skills—include a sentence/testimonial on your CV, or request that friends/former clients write testimonials for you on LinkedIn.
Record a short video of you describing your approach to mediation.
Determine exactly what skills are required for your desired path—then come up with a plan for getting there.
Take 4 months: and post something every 4 days. Watch for the growth in your clietns.
Mental Health Skills
Are we running out of our empathy?
As mediators we give so much, we have to refill our empathy canisters.
Zoom burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, professional decline: Affects your physical being. As within so without.
Depersonalization: treating clients and those around you as objects.
Decrease competency: evaluate work negatively.
23% of workers say they feel burnout often
Our personalities and our lifestyle have an extreme effect on our mental health. Understanding your personality can help to predict what are our common issues.
Having a lot of different jobs. Not finding something that is fulfilling. Disheartening.
Important to see the results of the work that you do, interact with others.
Over Zoom it just isn’t as rewarding.
Downside of something physical though is that it is easier to see mistakes.
Pandemic brought out the discrepancies in mental health.
Recognizing that some of our stressors are not rational.
Stressors: social, workplace, personal, physical, relational. Realize you can’t change some of these. Determine what you can change and then take a single small step for changing it.
We ask our friends closed-ended questions. Instead, ask them open questions, show that you are interested, form some real connections.
When someone is in a really dark place, remind them of their purpose, inspiration, motivation, fans, etc. Connect them back to what is important to them.
Call on other mediators for help.
Self-care should be a daily/nightly option.
Important to take care of yourself—exercise, healthy food, sunshine. Eat mindfully, without rushing.
Find someone to work with: friends or family, could be pets. If they are not close, find a trusted resource to debrief and discuss difficult cases.
Schedule time for the important things, not just the work or urgent things.
Understand your self-esteem: is it overly low or high? What can you do to balance that? This can also look like high-anxiety or extreme criticism.
Reflect, Recreate, Reconnect (call an old friend), Reconcile (reach out to a relationship that needs help), Retreat
Communicating boundaries—let people know when you are taking time for yourself.
Setting time in your schedule for self-care.
Personal mental health:
Have a job that is rewarding with people that you enjoy.
“Laziness does not exist.” – in a productivity obsessed world.
Doing something that is satisfying. Smaller hobbies that are enjoyable but challenging. Something that you have control over and is satisfying.
Make it clear that we also give others freedom to not respond right away, and enjoy time with each other.
Also, enjoy time with your clients—go beyond just asking about the weather, but get to know them.
Giving our bodies time to rest and reset.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
To avoid burnout:
–avoid procrastination (which is super stressful)
–avoid people that are negative or adding to stress
–planning things, but give yourself permission to push it to another day
–give yourself a YES Day.
–find a group that allows you to share (perhaps a mediation monthly Zoom meeting)
–use Wysa, a stress reduction app
–use tech to connect with people
–setting aside a self-care day
–healthy escapism (reading a book!)
–being around children
How can we “Job Craft”?
This article summarizes the Young Minds, Global Voices Conference. This conference was sponsored by mediate.com in May, 2021, in an effort to hear from new mediators. These 6 sessions comprised thought leaders from around the globe, forming a brain trust for how to create peace in ourselves, our community, and our world. Thank you to these incredible participants for paving the way to peace.
Reprinted with permission from Eleven Publishing, the publisher of the International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution. The article was published there in Dec. 2016.1 Introduction With the infusion of information...By Leah Wing
Ever since the publication of a Forbes article that named mediation to its list of “America’s Most Surprising Six-Figure Jobs“, I’ve been inundated with emails from mediator-hopefuls eager to stake...By Diane J. Levin