The good news if you are considering online mediation is that the process will look very similar to the traditional face to face mediation process. Both online and face to face mediations can be tailored to meet your circumstance and the same terms and conditions such as confidentiality apply, as well as who else might participate (e.g., if you want your lawyer to attend they still can).
Before getting into some details and tips it is worth mentioning that it takes a skilled mediator to do a mediation well when the parties are not together in the same room.
So what can you expect from your online mediation experience? I use Zoom which is software that allows people to connect online and the following features help to mitigate not being in the same room:
- Video Conference (so we can see and speak to each other online)
- Audio Only (if this is preferred or there are connectivity issues)
- Chat (like texting with the ability to send links or files)
- Breakout Rooms (confidential virtual conference rooms so we can talk privately)
- Share Screen (we can share / edit documents in real time)
- Lock Meeting (so no one else can unexpectedly join and ensure privacy)
Another benefit of Zoom is that you can join our online meetings from your computer, tablet or smartphone. It is easy and I will help you get comfortable based on your set up. That said, some technical frustration is to be expected and we will manage it together if needed.
So when does it make sense to mediate online? Traditionally online mediation has been used when there are geographical challenges, concerns with domestic violence, mediations that are more settlement focused and more recently due to a global pandemic.
For mediations that are more settlement focused online mediations can be very efficient and effective. If however, you are hoping for some relationship repair or to improve the ability of making decisions together and understand each other differently this is harder to do online. As a mediator, my ability to help parties resolve their issues is helped by my understanding of them and this is a little trickier when we are not in the same room together.
As a mediator who has conducted several online mediations, here are five tips to make your online mediation experience more comfortable:
- Set up a private space and it is best if you can be on a computer or tablet with access to phone / email (I have seen really creative set ups – ask if you need ideas)
- If you have headphones, use them (if they are wireless make sure they are charged)
- Have some snacks, water or coffee and perhaps some Kleenex near by
- Plug in your laptop and make sure your phone is charged (generally plugging in is better than wireless)
- If your kids are at home have a plan for them (better for connectivity if they are not on Wi-Fi)
If you still have questions about how online mediation might work for you please give me a call or send me an email – I am happy to discuss this further with you.