Becoming a Mediator: Am I Credible?

A Field Guide for Mediators

A Field Guide for Mediators

This can be the hardest question that mediators have to ask themselves. At least, it’s hard if the answer is ever in doubt. Clearly, the answer is not in doubt if your resume is littered with relevant credentials, experience, and accomplishments. Maybe you have a juris doctorate, a Ph.D. in psychology, or a graduate degree in conflict studies. Perhaps you’ve also completed one or more classes in mediation and have subsequently honed your skills as a seasoned volunteer community mediator. You might even have conducted several mediations as a private practitioner.

But what if the answer is No, I’m not credible, or merely an equivocal I think I’m credible, but I’m not sure. In that case, establishing credibility should be your first priority.

Credibility is relational and abstract. It derives not from objective reality. Rather, credibility emerges out of a relationship between two people — specifically, from one person’s preconceived beliefs concerning the other, and from the other’s ability to convey competence. One might say credibility lives at the intersection of prejudice and self-confidence. In other words, credentials count, but credibility grows from the inside out.

What does this mean for you as a mediator? It means you need to be appropriately confident in your skills while also mindful of how others perceive you. A focus on one without the other will not produce credibility.

[Excerpt from the acclaimed field guide for mediators, Mediating for Money: A Field Guide for Professional Mediators]

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