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What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal and voluntary problem-solving process that promotes constructive and respectful communication for managing conflict between two or more individuals. This confidential process provides one to two impartial mediators who help parties define issues and reach mutually acceptable agreements.

What types of issues can be addressed in mediation?

Mediation is most effective early in a dispute; however, more prolonged conflicts can also be addressed in mediation, particularly when both parties are interested in resolving the issues. Mediation has been successful in addressing interpersonal dynamics (e.g. one party is perceived as disrespectful by the language, tone, method, and/or manner of interactions by the other party) as well as issues which may escalate into a formal complaint and/or discipline process.

Why should I seek out mediation?

  • It is informal
  • No documentation about what was said during mediation is maintained anywhere
  • The process is flexible to accommodate different types of issues
  • It seeks win-win agreements for the parties
  • You are given the opportunity to discuss issues from your perspective and hear the other party’s perspective in a neutral environment

How long does mediation take?

Mediation typically occurs more quickly than most fact-finding complaint processes. Prior to mediation, a one-hour meeting is scheduled between the mediator(s) and each party separately. All parties later come together in a session. Mediation can usually be scheduled within a week and is typically only limited by the availability of the parties.

What if there are more than two of us with a problem?

Our process has the flexibility to also address multi-party disputes, including chain of command issues (two colleagues/co-workers and a supervisor) and group issues (several parties that have common issues regarding another party or common issues in group on group situations).

Who are the mediators?

Mediators are individuals from across UVA who have training and experience in conducting employment mediation. A co-mediator may also participate in partnership with a mediator. Mediation should be conducted only by an individual who is neutral to the situation. For this reason, mediators will not conduct mediation within their own department or organizational area.

Is mediation confidential?

Yes. Parties agree to keep information confidential unless both agree to release specific information to other parties.

What happens during the mediation session?

  • Before the session: Each party may first meet with a mediator individually to talk through the issues, decide if mediation is the right path for the situation, and help prepare for the mediation session.
  • The actual mediation session is divided into two parts:
    • Part I: Mediators ask questions of each party to clarify the issues. In this phase, the parties have the opportunity to hear each other’s point of view one at a time.
    • Part II: Parties work more directly with each other to reach mutual agreements about interacting and communicating with each other in the future. These agreements are in writing and are only provided to the parties.

What is conflict coaching?

Conflict coaching provides faculty or staff members a forum to describe the conflict from their own perspectives and generate possible strategies that they may initiate to improve the situation, raise issues with the other party, and/or identify other resources. Many people find this process valuable in finding positive avenues to address conflict.

What if I want to or have already filed a grievance or other formal complaint related to the conflict?

Mediation is not part of the formal grievance process. Parties may choose to continue the processing of the grievance or put it on hold while parties try mediation. Typically, mediation can occur more quickly than the time required to process grievances and other formal complaints. If mediation successfully addresses those issues, parties often agree to withdraw the grievance or complaint. If mediation is unsuccessful, parties may opt to continue with the formal complaint.

What about the risk of retaliation for raising issues?

Retaliation is strictly forbidden under UVA’s Anti-Retaliation Policy. The department will respond to any allegations of retaliation. If retaliation is found to have occurred, those responsible for the retaliation are subject to disciplinary action.

If you have other questions, please call us at 434.924.4758