The Mediation Times

 

Starting a mediation practice

by Amanda on June 11, 2008

A recent conversation reminded me of how difficult it is to build a full-time mediation practice. I am frequently asked by new and aspiring mediators how to go about it and if there are any tips and tricks I can share with them!

I am always willing to share my experiences but at this point in the conversation I usually feel rather helpless! I have never found any tricks to building a mediation practice although I would argue there is some element of magic and luck in the process! I thought I would write something more helpful and then I noticed that Geoff Sharp at Mediator blah blah has  covered the subject with some good links to other articles. Here is one by Victoria Pynchon who is fast becoming my friend although she doesn’t know it yet! The wonders of blogs! Starting a practice.

On the question of magic and luck: in my experience they tend to follow having clear goals, intention and commitment. You can wrap your strategy around those and listen for opportunities that match your goals.

Tammy Lenski who is also fast becoming a friend through the world of blogs has written some useful articles about starting a mediation practice. This is a very good place to start. I also really recommend her site which is full of really useful tips. It is also beautiful to browse.

Having read through both Victoria’s and Tammy’s generous summaries of what worked and what didn’t. My own experiences are very similar. Here are a couple of points that I feel can’t be emphasised enough:

Sometimes the most difficult thing is saying ‘no’ to work that might distract you or muddy your positioning in the market. For example, taking a commission for work which is what you used to do rather than what you want to do now and more importantly requires that you practice some of the things that you now know don’t work. The benefit of working with people that you know is that you are likely to have established rapport and trust with the client and you may feel able to say ‘yes’ to what they say they want and do what you would rather do with better results for both!

Saying ‘yes’ to any and all opportunities to use your mediation skills, and in the early days this tends to be for little or no remuneration, will lead you to other opportunities (they always do) and will help you feel you are making progress because you are doing what you are good at and learning how that works in practice. It also helps to put substance on your CV.
I recommend that you keep a journal or notes about any new work/mediations that you do. I have a journal entry for each mediation/project which covers the following questions:

  • What were my expectations? This covers hopes about the benefits and fears about the risks especially if I am doing something new or dealing with an area in which I don’t have a huge amount of expert subject knowledge.
  • What did I try that was new? This would include new skills, testing new insights or theories developed from past experiences, reading or training
  • What was the highpoint? This covers things that worked and that I would do again/more of. It also covers insights and turning points.
  • What didn’t work? This might include concepts that I didn’t quite explain well enough and need to reframe or refine or the outcome of trying something new which didn’t work!
  • Would I like to do more?

If you have any particular questions about getting started do post a question.

2 comments
Tammy Lenski
Tammy Lenski

Amanda, thanks for the shout-out about Mediator Tech and for extending the conversation here. I'd have replied sooner but was taking a much-needed bit of vacation time.

I really like and want to underscore your comment, "Sometimes the most difficult thing is saying ‘no’ to work that might distract you or muddy your positioning in the market." The longer I do this work, and talk about marketing with other mediators, the clearer and clearer I am that focus and purpose in terms of market segment and niche make a huge difference for success.

Best to you,
Tammy

Amanda
Amanda

Dominique... merci beaucoup!

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