Isn’t it reassuring knowing you have someone in your corner to advocate for you? Have you ever wondered what the other side thinks, feels, and perceives about that advocate. An advocate can be anyone from a family member, personal representative, union representative, attorney, management official, etc. There are many myths, realities, and debates in regard to benefits versus disadvantages of mediating with advocates.
I have heard many debates over these myths and realities and want to share some and then discuss how advocates can add value to the process, share tips for working with advocates, talk about potential challenging or problem situations with advocates, and lastly some parting suggestions for maximizing the interaction with advocates. As a mediator being armed with tools and useful information will aide in not becoming overly worried when you find participants to the process plan on having an advocate/representative present during the mediation.
So you may be asking yourself how advocates truly add value to the mediation process. There are numerous ways that come to mind but for sake of brevity I will share these:
There are some key considerations that prove helpful to the process when working with advocates.
In the event you have had previous contact with an advocate and make sure to always disclose previous contact with an advocate (and a party). Also, assure the other advocate (with whom you’ve had no contact) that you’re looking forward to working with him/her too. Make a concerted effort to be sensitive to equitable treatment of both advocates to avoid a perception of partiality.
In summation of the mediating with advocates’ journey I share some parting pearls of wisdom. Remember, the advocate is not your enemy and they can help with coping with difficult or unreasonable issues, demands, and behaviors. Never surrender your role as a neutral to an advocate because as the mediator you control the mediation process. A few other considerations include:
Lastly, by capitalizing on an advocate’s role it can enhance the outcomes of the mediation for all participants and leave a positive impression of the mediation process and experience.
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