Telephone conferencing mediation can work well

by | Jul 9, 2012

A recent mediation involved the use of Kidatu’s Accord conferencing service which operated well on the landlines but had too much background noise on a mobile.  Once that party changed to a landline it was good.  I could put one party on hold for a brief confidential check in with the other and also take them into a “separate room” if longer was needed.  While on hold the party listened to music and carried on with thinking about the mediation because I had expressly asked them both to lock themselves away with a clear “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the door.  One of the directors operated from home and the other made sure no one came into his office.  They stayed focused on the task which included a complicated settlement involving future commitments between them.


The system worked better than I expected.  I have done several telephone mediations, phoning back and forth, and reaching resolution.  This was more beneficial because it was not only more immediate to jump back and forth but it also enabled a highly constructive continuation of the mediation after both parties had said what they needed to say to each other.  The fact that you could hold a proper and full opening session to explain how mediation was going to work for them and address them both on process at once enhanced “setting the table for mediation”.  That done, giving them both the chat about the importance of listening to the other because that is when they hear what might work for themselves and the other, was also constructive, so much so that it was easy to continue into a mediation without separating.  Perhaps because they did not have physical encounters, they listened harder, heard more and may have responded to each other better than face to face.  Most of the three hours of the mediation were spent together on the same conference call with both parties talking to each other in my presence.  The deal done was so complicated that if it had been a “shuttle” mediation, it could have taken a lot longer.

I recommend all mediators to consider the system  and to note that Helen Roberts and her team are fully aware of the importance of confidentiality having readily signed the Agreement to Mediate as parties to the confidentiality clause it includes.