Feedback is a tool to help people learn to perform
better. People rarely get as much helpful feedback as we need
because giving and receiving feedback is often difficult and
uncomfortable. Giving and receiving feedback may be particularly difficult
when people do not know or trust each other well. If done well, it is a
real gift even if (often especially when) it is difficult to hear.
Ideally, the tone and substance of feedback should convey unquestioned
respect for the recipient at the same time that it points out possibly
problematic behaviors. Similarly, response to feedback should convey
respect and appreciation for the comments and commenter even if one
disagrees with the comments.
Feedback is not a statement of the general value or skill of the
mediator, nor whether the observer likes or dislikes the mediator.
It is a report of perceptions of one trial. Moreover, it is a function of
the observer's perceptions and perceptual biases as well as the
mediator's behavior. Thus it is not "reality," only the
observer's reality of a single interaction.
Start the feedback process with the mediator stating his or her own
observations before getting feedback from the parties.
Solicit feedback on specific areas you are interested in.
("Did you feel I was favoring one party or the other?")
Try on the feedback and try to make sense of it. Only later, if
at all, should you justify or explain your intent, disagree with the
feedback, or discount it. During this later phase, you might incorporate
a statement of your intent in a question to see how well your tactic
worked. ("I summarized Maria's statements to convey that I
understood what she really meant. Was that helpful or did that seem
Rephrase feedback to see if corresponds with what the observer
perceived. ("It sounded to Ron that I focused on the details
of the damages and that interfered with analyzing the underlying
issues. Is that right?")
Check out feedback from one observer to see if others perceived the
same things. ("Diane seemed to have a hard time understanding
what I was saying. Did anyone else feel that way?")
State whether feedback was helpful or not.
Ask for more feedback if necessary.
Check if the feedback fits with your experience.
Start and end with positive feedback if possible. Be direct,
honest and also sensitive to the mediator's feelings.
"Critical" feedback should focus on how to improve the
performance in the future rather than judging the overall value of the
mediation or mediator.
Give feedback responding to mediator's requests for feedback.
Provide specific observable data where possible.
("When you discussed Ruth's complaints, you started talking
Include your experience. ("I felt anxious when you asked
Abdul why he didn't stop manufacturing the product after receiving
reports of injuries it caused.")
Withhold judgments, interpretations, suggestions, and questions or
defer them until after analyzing the interactions as described above.
Check if the mediator found the feedback helpful and/or wants more
This form was adapted from the mediation conflict analysis developed by
Gary Friedman of the Center for Mediation in Law (http://www.mediationinlaw.org/indexpage.html)
and reproduced with permission.