Navigating the new normal*

How to leverage the strategic skills of the mediator in navigating ‘COVID normal’: staying together while physically apart. 

Throughout COVID-19, local governments have needed to deliver more services and support to individuals and businesses in personal and economic need. 

At a time when health restrictions are constantly changing and uncertainty continues, local communities are more anxious than ever, and disputes can be more complex to resolve. 

As local communities wait to return to a ‘new normal’, how can local governments make communities and their staff feel more certain in an uncertain world? 

For many people with complaints, their primary objective is often not to obtain a perfect outcome, but at the very least to feel that their concerns have been heard. 

People understand that local governments are limited in how they can respond to individual needs. But at the very least they expect Council to find a flexible solution to satisfy their core interests. 

Mediation strategies and skills can arm staff with new tools to respond empathically and effectively.

Mediation is not just a cost-effective and self-determinative process resolving complaints and disputes. It is a mindset supported by an array of soft skills. 

Often used in resolving workplace and commercial issues, mediation skills are transferable to any context, but resonate particularly well in service activities. 

Hosing down rather than inflaming a situation, the skills of the mediator can help people understand what is important to each other, and agree to solutions that they can live with. 

Mediation skills are pragmatic and forward-focussed. 

By training and empowering staff to utilise the skills of the mediator, local governments can help customers and staff feel heard and respected, agree on an outcome and often relax the relationship moving forward. 

Leveraging the skills of the mediator can create a positive reputation for facilitating prompt, fair and durable solutions during the COVID crises, and beyond.

*Copy supplied by Australian Disputes Centre