Is Virtual Mediation Virtually as Good?
By Todd Singer
As the world has rapidly changed so too has how we interact with each other. Businesses have moved online and, even though reopening has begun, many of what has changed will be slow to return to normal. The virtual workplace is with us for the time being. Let’s take a look at how, and whether, this has allowed virtual mediation to become just as effective.
Like many parts of our lives ranging from religious services to happy hours, mediation has taken advantage of technologies like Zoom to continue on with some degree of normalcy. This explosion of virtual meeting space can be reflected in Zoom’s 300 million daily meeting participants at the height of stay-at-home orders in April. Family mediation has been no exception to these trends. Even courthouses have turned to these programs to protect people amid an ongoing pandemic.
The how of virtual mediation is very simple. Each party joins, preferably, from their own computer and engages their mediator in a virtual session. We use Zoom although others may make use of one of the other available apps. The mediation otherwise is able to proceed as before. It might not be in-person, but it can be just as effective.
There are numerous benefits to mediating virtually. When the parties are able to engage in mediation from the comfort of their homes and without even changing out of their sweatpants (we don’t judge), some of the stress and tension of the moment may be reduced. It can be easier to disengage at tense moments and de-escalate when those moments become contentious.
The change to video does take some getting used to the challenges it brings. While everyone can see each other, some of the social cues that we rely on to know when to speak and a person’s intent can be harder to pick up on video. This can result in speaking over one another or misconstrued statements but being aware of these potential roadblocks can go a long way toward the patience and understanding needed to avoid these problems (not to mention be successful in mediation).
Overall, the benefits of virtual meeting programs like Zoom mean that many parts of our lives have been able to continue. Some things can’t wait and it is a good thing that we have these technologies available to keep our lives moving. Mediation has adapted and continues to help people here in San Diego and across the country.
Are you interested in virtual mediation? Contact San Diego Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411 for more information or to schedule a FREE mediation consultation.