Virtual Mediations – Tips & Tricks
Educate and inform your client about the virtual mediation process. The information does not have to be exclusively about a “virtual mediation”, but it should provide the parties some idea of the process, as well as mediations in general. The parties should receive the information well in advance of their mediation to allow time for feedback or questions. A follow-up with the them, prior to their mediation, is advised so they can know what to expect during the process.
Prior to the mediation get to know your virtual platforms and their nuances. Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams all have different features and capabilities. Practice with the mediator, friends and/or family before your mediation. Some things to consider – Ethernet connections are always preferred; make sure the mediator can caucus in private “virtual rooms”; have a secondary means of communication available, e.g. a Phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
Privacy & Confidentiality –
The mediation environment should be safe and private to maintain confidentiality. A mediation can only be as secure as the people involved. Have your client periodically scan the room with their device to set the tone of security and privacy. It is important to discuss these topics with your client in advance of the mediation.
Unexpected Issues –
Expect the unexpected. Have a plan in place in case of a technology issue and let your client know ahead of time. If using a phone, keep a tablet nearby or have another device available. The attending parties may not be familiar with the platforms, technology and devices being used. A problem at the beginning of, or during, the mediation may result in frustrating a party and derailing the process.
Listen, Observe & Learn –
The virtual mediation process can be very successful one, despite the nuances. A party’s body language or facial expressions may be misinterpreted. Background distractions with animals, ceiling fans or bright lights can interfere with the process as well. Minimize the stumbling blocks by letting the attendees know at the beginning of the mediation to help ensure a successful process.