Conflict Resolution Corner | Neutrality is the key to mediation
Welcome to another instalment of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) School Intervention Programme (SIP), Conflict Resolution Corner. This seeks to provide tips on dealing with conflict, particularly among children.
"A bridge has no allegiance to either side." Les Coleman
Neutrality is a criterion for the mediator or third person involved in conflict resolution.
It is the ability to remain impartial by not supporting or helping either side in a conflict. To remain neutral, the third person's views, expressions and/or strong feelings must be absent from the environment.
The mediator must be conscious of his or her body language, tone and other expressions at all times to prevent sending the messages of partiality.
"No person can totally be impartial in his thought, since everyone has personal values that are unique. Consequently, the mediator (third party) must also be concerned with how he or she is perceived, both in words and actions." (Center, 1990)
Regardless of the status, size, age or relationship of the disputants, the third party must remain neutral at all times. The success of any conflict resolution is in large part dependent upon the neutral participation of the third party.
Who is this third party? This third party can be anyone who has a desire to promote peace, takes no part in the quarrel and has no vested interest in the outcome of the dispute.
If neutrality/impartiality can be seen in the third party, he will be trusted by the disputants and an environment will be created which is conducive to effective problem solving.
Whatever we do, let us remember that our roles as the third party is to help the disputants reach an amicable agreement.
John 8:32: "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
- Sandria Watkis-Madden is a youth peace facilitator/ mediator based at the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), head of the DRF School Intervention Programme in Clarendon. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or, email@example.com or, firstname.lastname@example.org