Regrettably, we live in a society where conflict resolution is usually much easier said than done. Disagreements related to criminal, marital and employment issues occur daily, and many take months, or even years, to resolve. Going to court to resolve differences is common, which makes the entire process more stressful and expensive for all parties involved. On the other hand, mediation is a practice that’s commonly used to avoid all those hassles. If becoming a volunteer mediator has been on your “to-do” list, here’s why it just might be the right decision.

What Does a Mediator Do?

Mediators, and the mediation process itself, provide an invaluable service to court systems around the United States. A mediator basically meets with all parties involved in a dispute, for example an estranged husband and wife, and tries to get those parties to agree upon an equitable solution in writing that can then be taken to the court for final approval.

Although being a mediator requires good listening skills and thoughtful speech, it doesn’t take any special qualifications to become one in most states, including Massachusetts. However, anyone who’s interested must first go through training to learn the mediation process. That’s why many professional mediators get started by serving as volunteers first.

Different Types of Mediation

Court-appointed and voluntary mediation services come in many forms, including:

Family mediation. Includes issues like child custody, divorce, domestic violence and parent/teen conflicts. Family mediators usually have training in child development, along with behavioral and social sciences.

Workplace dispute mediation. Relates to employment situations like labor disputes, workplace safety and discrimination actions.

Small claims mediation. These agreements are typically signed to resolve lower-level disagreements that don’t involve a lot of money, for example tenant-landlord disputes. In most instances, parties that go through small claims mediation do so voluntarily.

Other mediation types. There are also mediation niches for art, education, and adult and juvenile criminal justice.

Being a Volunteer Mediator is Rewarding

Volunteer mediators oftentimes reap these rewards while performing their duties:

It’s Emotionally Uplifting

Giving up your time to help others is emotionally rewarding, from boosting one’s self-esteem to gaining a better perspective on how to resolve conflicts. Being involved in something like a successful child custody mediation brings a sense of accomplishment once you realize that your efforts have helped mend broken relationships and bring estranged family members closer together.

Boosts Civic Pride

Our courts are already overloaded, so when a mediator helps resolve cases outside of the courtroom, they are providing an invaluable service to their community. Once a mediation agreement has been signed, it can then be taken to the judge- saving everyone involved, including the taxpayers, valuable resources. In the end, doing good ends up boosting a mediator’s sense of civic pride.

Hones Communication Skills

Successful mediators must develop effective oral and written communication skills. While serving in that role, one must also be assertive and not mince words. The parties undergoing mediation have-to clearly understand what’s at stake and what their options are.

A good mediator must remain neutral and impartial no matter how heated the session becomes. Most volunteer mediators find that their listening skills dramatically improve once they have some mediation experience under their belt. In any event, honing one’s communication skills is a major plus when it’s time to apply for graduate school or that new job.

Makes You a Better Person

Perhaps the best thing about being a volunteer mediator is that you can apply those same mediation concepts to your personal and professional life. You’ll be able to face new relationships and challenges with confidence, and when conflicts arise at work, school or home, you’ll be better equipped to defuse them!

Learn New Mediation Skills at FSCM in Worcester Today

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or professional mediator, contact Family Services of Central Massachusetts today. FSCM’s Basic Mediation Training Program provides classroom instruction and real-world role-playing scenarios so that you can become a certified mediator, or improve upon your existing mediation skills. Our course is accredited in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is designed to teach participants the entire mediation process within 5 days.

At FSCM, we recognize that learning basic mediation skills is an invaluable way for students, mental health professionals, attorneys and retired persons to give back to their communities. Our agency also offers informal and confidential professional mediation services to individuals and organizations in the Worcester area. To learn more now, please call: 508-756-4646 or visit:!