There are many different Commercial (and Workplace) Mediator Skills courses in the world. CEDR’s Accreditation enjoys a particular distinction as probably the most widely recognised internationally because of the quality of the training and is consequently very popular.
In a fair number of jurisdictions, CEDR’s Accreditation is part of a path to establishing oneself as a mediator and even gaining some kind of formal status as a mediator (whether as a stand-alone qualification or as part of a wider accreditation – where CEDR partners with local mediation trainers). By way of example, in the Jurisdiction of England & Wales CEDR’s Training Course is registered with the Civil Mediation Council (and is, therefore, a recognised course for individuals that wish to become registered by the Council).
Not everyone that takes CEDR Mediator Skills Training Course goes on to become CEDR Accredited but around 80% do make the mark.
Just as with any career development or new business venture, CEDR would always encourage an individual to do their research before pursuing a career as a mediator. This would include answering questions such as:
- Why do I need an accreditation?
- What would I do with my accreditation – do I want to start work as a mediator this year (or maybe at a future date)?
- Do I value what the accreditation will show in other ways (I can advise my clients on what to do in a mediation and how to work with a mediator)?
- Can I mediate informally as well as or instead of commercial claims?
- What does a potential business plan look like? How much am I (or my organisation) willing to invest in this new career avenue?
Commercial mediation is still a relatively new profession in the UK and, despite huge growth over the past few years in the number of mediations being conducted (10,000 according to the last biennial mediation audit in 2016), overall numbers are still relatively small. Consequently, with the exception of a small number of individuals, there are very few full-time commercial mediators in the UK. Even established mediators might only mediate three or four cases a month. Fees tend to match those for consultants or professional advisers, reflecting experience, background and reputation. The vast majority of mediators either have a ‘day job’ or mediate as part of a portfolio career.
In previous surveys CEDR has run, just under half of mediators claimed not wanting to mediate as their principal occupation. So why do individuals willingly put themselves through a gruelling five-day training course to become a mediator if, as is widely accepted, there are plenty of mediators but not enough work of them to be fulltime?
A new life skill
Neutrality is unnatural to us. We all develop personal values, attitudes, beliefs and views conditioned by our life experiences. It is therefore very powerful then to learn how to work impartially with others so that you can recognise not only the sources and extent of your own abilities and how they may affect your reaction with other people but learning how to identify and work with emotions, and attitudes of others. For example:
- Do you know how to frame a good question?
- Can use body language to assist in communication?
- Can you stand back and allow someone to reach their own conclusions, albeit with your patient guidance?
- Trust is fragile – do you know how to treat it?
- When you reach a dead end in discussions, do you have the skills to reframe the same question or idea to enable the recipient to better understand or accept?
- Are you able to seek the help in exploring more ideas from the ‘other side’?
- Can you reality test alternatives of not settling conflict without offending?
- Can you handle a situation when someone shows strong emotions?
No doubt many people can tick at least one of the above skills. But very few could claim to use these as a package of skills to enhance their day- to-day business or personal activities.
These represent the fundamental building blocks a mediator will call upon in any mediation (Civil, Commercial or Workplace) where, as a third party neutral, they are there to assist parties in reaching a solution to any given issue. It is this skill package that many delegates delight in having acquired.
Thinking about becoming a ‘mediator’
So whilst there is a professional path you can start upon by getting an accreditation (and a CEDR Accreditation may give you a better chance than others) there are also invaluable competencies that will enhance your skills set in a work and career context. Keep these factors in mind when deciding if and why accreditation is important to you.
This article is based on the CEDR Mediator Skill Handbook (the set text book of the CEDR Mediator Skills Training). To discuss becoming a mediator please feel free to call us on +44(0) 20 7536 6000 or visit www.cedr.com/skills/mediation-training/.