A trainer’s demonstrative opening statement has to be perfect. Though opening statement is considered as a ‘forgiving process’, when it comes from a trainer, one has to see to it that it is flawless. It should have a special touch.
The points to be communicated must come one after the other. There should be no confusion in the mind of the speaker or that of the listener. There should be perfect flow. The voice modulation should be taken note of. There has to be assertive statements. There has to be requests. There has to be encouraging statements. Trainer’s objective is to see to it that Opening statement is made in such a perfect manner by each of the trainees so that they can move the disputing parties glued into the mediation process on their own, impressed by the information given by the mediator in the opening statement. Through the opening statement trust is created in the mediator as well in the process.
As mediation is a structured process, trainer should not forget that, through the opening statement a mediator is trying to explain to the disputing parties and others, as to what exactly is mediation, what is the role of the mediator, lawyer and about the mediation process, ground rules and advantages of mediation. Though all the elements of mediation are briefly introduced in the opening statement, it would be ideal if they are introduced in a systematic manner, so that as the process continues, the parties will get to know that ‘the process is going on exactly the way in which it was stated in the opening statement by the mediator.’ Trainer should always know that ‘opening statement’ is not just about covering all the points about mediation and the process. It is much more. The way in which it is said is equally important.
FIRST STATEMENT – TELLING
Tell the participants in mediation what you are going to tell, and then tell what you had assured to tell.
Let me take few minutes of your time to explain what is mediation, what is my role and that of lawyers, how the mediation process takes place, and what are the advantages.
This statement prepares the mindset of the participants. This statement also strengthens one of the definitions of mediation i.e., “Mediation is an informed process”.
- What is mediation?
It is always better to start with “what is mediation?”
Depending on the receptive capacity of the participants a simple statement like
Mediation is a voluntary process.
It is a confidential process.
It is party centric process.
“Mediation is a process, (PAUSE) where disputing parties are facilitated by the mediator, (PAUSE) to resolve the dispute (PAUSE) by themselves.”
Mediator can coin several such proper definitions regarding “What is mediation?” and use it appropriately depending on the circumstances.
- What is my role as a mediator?
Let me tell you “I am a neutral person.
I have no personal interest in either of you (PAUSE) or in the subject matter in issue in this matter.
I will be facilitating the process.
I will not impose my views on either of you (PAUSE) in any manner.
I will not compel either or both of you (PAUSE) to agree or disagree on anything.
- About the Process
“Let me tell you how this mediation process takes place:
First we have joint session.
In the joint session one of you will tell me the narrative briefly.
You can tell only the disclosable factors.
Disclose those factors (PAUSE) which you don’t mind disclosing (PAUSE) in the presence of the other party.
GIST: Then, I will make a restatement.
Please feel free to correct me, (PAUSE) if I have not understood you properly.
After one party has completed, the other party will give the narrative.
I will tell the gist of it.
The other party can correct me if my understanding is incorrect.
GROUND RULES: 1..2..3…4…5…6.
About Private session:
Trainer has to tell in small sentences how private sessions are used.
While explaining about private session. Trainer/mediator has to tell about confidentiality.
Thereafter, Trainer may discuss:
- Scheduling the sessions
- Time / limitation
- What if agreement is reached
- What if agreement is not reached?
- Any questions about the process?
It is paining to see that at times some trainers fail in their demonstrative opening statements.
How to overcome this?
- Prepare a written opening statement.
- It should be prepared in a methodical manner.
- Points should be placed one after the other.
- One sentence should not go beyond a line or at the maximum beyond one and a half line.
- There should not be any repetition.
- After working on the first draft, trainer has to edit the same. Delete the unwanted word/s or sentence/s
- Get the second draft prepared.
- Read it many a times. Edit it again.
- Then record the opening statement twice.
- Work on the mistakes.
- Get the Third recording done.
- Send it across to co trainers.
- Get their fair feedback.
- Work on the shortfalls if any.
How to give feedback?
Feedback about trainer’s opening statement should not be limited to ‘what was left out in the opening statement’.
It should also include some of the areas like :
- Voice modulation
- Confidence of the trainer/mediator
- connecting to listener
- communication being easily understandable
- Simple and effective sentences
- Brevity and clarity.
- Choice of words
- Avoiding repetition.
- Unwanted sentence/s.
“ You can be your best Judge, if only you are honest to yourself.”