Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
“The Mediation Process During the Pandemic”
How can we, as ADR professionals, continue to serve our community during these unprecedented times where the personal and professional burdens imposed by the Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines have disrupted our lives and intensified ongoing conflicts?
At Successful Resolution Services, we have had to adapt to the new virtual environment in order to continue to supply mediation services to our clients and neighbors in the Merrimack Valley community, and like many others, we are still making procedural changes to strengthen our resolution processes.
As far as ADR is concerned, the transition from in-person meetings to virtual mediations has been challenging. With few exceptions, most ADR methods involve personal interactions between the mediators and the opposing parties. Although applications such as Zoom, Facetime, etc. can bring all parties together on-line, technology cannot fully replace the importance of face-to-face negotiations.
Communication is the most important part of the mediation process, and face-to-face communication was the foundation of mediation. With the current online environment, a mediator may be able to hear the words spoken by a client but other communicative signals such as body language, facial expressions, physical movements, etc. can be overlooked. These unnoticed signals could conceal feelings of anxiety, anger, depression, or resentment hindering the ADR process. Furthermore, face-to-face meetings usually help to build trust and confidence among the participants, and this could be lost on-line.
It is easy to see the advantages of the face-to-face process and because of that, the on-line process must be continually analyzed and enhanced to greater perfect the overall on-line process.
At Successful Resolution Services we continue to modify our ADR processes to improve the on-line communication to overcome its various disadvantages. We continually objectively analyze our on-line sessions and solicit feedback from all participants. We are also comparing results from previous face-to-face sessions with current on-line sessions to identify areas for improvement.
As the pandemic continues to change all our lives, personal and professional conflicts will unfortunately continue to escalate. We will continue to analyze and strengthen our ADR process to help our community through this challenging time.
Stephen R. Smith, Esq.
Successful Resolution Services, LLP
321 Billerica Road, OfficeLink Suite 16
Chelmsford, MA 01824