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The Eight Characteristics of Strong Mediators in School

Schools in the United States have already employed mediators to help out in settling difficult conversations among young adult and adult students. Originally the post of a guidance counselor, a mediator acts both as a bridge and a balance to facilitate peaceful coexistence in an academic institution.

A strong mediator must first be calm and composed. Most of the time, the two parties who approach the mediator for the first time are in acute conflict, therefore they may be verbally or even physically attacking one another. A good mediator will remain composed for the rest of the session, and will not be driven by the emotions of both parties. Because a mediator is supposed to bring in resolution, he or she must not be a source of verbal triggers which will cause the students to recoil more. A mediator then must be a good communicator - possessing skills of a listener and speaker. The mediator should be active in listening to be able to pick out relevant cues (and screen the irrelevant ones). He or she must then deliver the message to the students in a proper manner, with the correct tone, but with certain firmness.

The third characteristic of a strong mediator is that he or she must have an encompassing knowledge in legal terms and federal law. The conflicts of young adults and adults alike in an academic institution are already bound by the laws of a state in one way or another. The cases more or less have bearings with legal terms, and so the mediator must be able to present articles to the opposing parties and explain it well. This brings us to the fourth characteristic, which is credibility. Usually, school mediators are lawyers, or those who have been accredited or certified. A credible mediator, under the professional regulations of a state, would be able to present his or her credentials when put into question. The characteristic of credibility is not a choice, but a requirement to be a mediator.

School mediators must be neutral, too. They must not be affiliated with any of the opposing parties. Their decisions must not be biased, whether it is pro or against any of the conflicting sides, or any other grouping such as sex, race, culture or religion. To be neutral is also to have facilitative leadership, the sixth characteristic. To be able to facilitate difficult conversations, the mediator should be able to control the flow of the forum. The term mediator means someone who is at the center. Thus, the mediator becomes the channel to which opposing parties send their messages across. A good facilitator will be able to channel out urges to prevent the forum from allowing physical assaults in between the opposing parties.

A strong mediator must also be a good counselor. Before and after forums, a mediator usually speaks to the opposing parties separately. The meeting before a forum is usually dedicated to try to resolve the issue within a party itself. Along with facilitation, counseling helps a party to generate solutions for themselves from available options. If the mediator succeeds in doing so, then there will be less stress on each party's side. Lastly, a strong mediator must be a critical thinker, who will not just accept arguments without making sure they are solid and proved to be true. A critical thinker does not easily jump into conclusions after hearing one side of the story. The mediator should look into all perspectives of the story; from the opposing parties, from the outside view and into his or her own mind as he or she looks into the issue. Strong mediators in schools do not possess all these characteristics, but it is important to note as these may be helpful.

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