Ensure that both parties have the same influence over the outcome.
Give each person equal speaking time, but also keep an eye out for the amount of words and their meaning in balance with what another party says / said. (Some need more words to say the same as another).
Let people speak, but keep them in control.
A tool by Dick Allewijn (Dick Allewijn: judge, mediator and trainer in conflict resolution, The netherlands)
Ask the most powerful party about the objective of its power play - find out about its underlying interests.
Together with the most powerful party, find out what it is exactly they want to know from the less powerful party. What could the more powerful party contribute to bring the less powerful party to reason?
Find out, in exchange with the most powerful party, what (offensive) behavior by the less powerful party triggered its dominant attitude.
Address the 'power question' openly but sensitively: Who needs the other the most? Who is in charge?
- And in general the mediator's motto in these types of cases: "empower them both!"
Note: This is only applicable when power imbalance occurs. It is inapplicable when parties who are disputing are in balance
Remind the objectives and the benefits of the meeting to all parties
A common and difficult to avoid problem in dispute resolution is that a party tries to use power to influence to gain an advantage for their own interest, to equalise the power balance mediators can use the following strategies:
Emphasize neutrality: Facilitators in Egypt, Rwanda, Mali, Egypt and Bangladesh, all use their one neutrality the equalize power differences
Religious pressure: In Egypt and Cambodia facilitators sometimes use religious arguments to warn a party who want to power in a negative way
Involving even more powerful third parties: To break the power of a party a facilitator in Cambodia would not hesitate to ask for the support of an even more powerful party. In Azerbaijan, lawyers for Praxis might approach a parties employer to try and eliminate a power imbalance. They are careful to ensure that the 3rd party is not someone who has an interest in the case, however.
Toolkit Mediation, Schonewille, M., 2007, p 45
Toolkit Mediation, Schonewille, M., 2007, p 47
Reality checking all the likely consequences of a proposed course of action, including the long term consequences of using their power unfairly during the mediation, creating doubts in the minds of the parties over ‘the facts, the law, the evidence and their likelihood of their being successful in litigation.
Boulle L, (2001). 'Mediation: Skills and Techniques' Butterworths Skills Series, 181 p 227.
Reflect on whether the process is ‘fair’ after using a series of questions to focus attention on the parties’ abilities to negotiate.
Severens, K. (1998) Mediation Manual (IINCM, 1998) (adapted by) Sourdin, T., in ‘Conciliation Processes’ LEADR – The Third Millennium Conference
To achieve equalisation of power:
Boulle, L., & Nesic, M. (2001) Mediation: Principles, Process, Practice. Butterworths, London:UK
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