Workplace Mediation: What is success?
September 8, 2022

Mediation statistics focus on the success rate for mediations as the percentage of cases that reach an agreement as a result.  While this is a useful indicator of a successful mediation, it isn’t the only one.

This blog considers the benefits of the mediation agreement and identifies other benefits that mediations often deliver in the workplace.

An agreement

Getting to an agreement is the commonly cited way to gauge whether a mediation was successful. For the parties, setting down the points of agreement and any actions that they have each agreed to take forward can represent a very tangible output of the process.

The agreement can also signify their willingness to work together.  And it allows for accountability – it’s clear who has taken responsibility for which actions.


It’s not for nothing that mediators often see the joint meeting, where both the parties have the opportunity to speak and to hear from each other directly, as ‘where the magic happens’.  Hearing from each other directly can build the parties’ understanding of each other’s perspective of the conflict, how the dispute has impacted the other party and, crucially, what each needs from the relationship in the future.

“I didn’t realise that was how it looked to you”


Hearing what the issues have been like for the other party and what the impact has been on them personally can also lead to greater empathy. Often in conflict, there can be a tendency to demonise the other party – to see them as fundamentally a ‘bad person’. This perspective can be the lens through which the whole relationship is viewed.

Demonization results in constant suspicion and blame, a systematic disregard of positive events, pressure to eradicate the putative negative persons or forces, and a growing readiness to engage in escalating conflict. 

The Psychology of Demonisation: Promoting Acceptance and Reducing Conflict

Giving the parties the opportunity to shift from this perspective is a hugely valuable part of the mediation process.

This is also the part of the process where the atmosphere in the meeting room tangibly shifts.  The pressure between the parties eases.  And, with that shift, it’s very natural to then move into the stage of the mediation meeting where the parties start to problem-solve their issues.

“I can see it’s been hard for you too.”

Confidence to resolve any further issues directly

We know that issues are likely to arise in the future – even with the best will in the world, when there are two or more people involved, there are almost certainly going to be areas where they disagree.  NB this isn’t a bad thing, in fact, having those differing perspectives can be very helpful, if they are handled constructively.

At the conclusion of mediation, the parties commonly agree to address any future issues directly between themselves in future.  Having worked through the mediation process, there is often an increased level of confidence that they can work through issues together because, well, they have done just that as part of the mediation.  Yes – they have done this with the support of the mediator.  But, since self-determination is baked into the mediation process, the mediator doesn’t tell the parties what to do, make suggestions, or recommendations.  The onus is on the parties to identify what changes are needed for their relationship to be better in the future.


Getting an agreement at the end of a mediation is a great achievement and provides much-welcomed clarity on who is going to do what, for the future.  The less tangible benefits from the mediation process include a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives and needs, empathy and the confidence to address issues directly in the future.

If you’d like to discuss a potential mediation with Pip, please click here and we will be in touch to arrange a no-obligation call of about 30 minutes.

Philippa Brown

A CEDR-accredited mediator, Pip founded Conflict Insights and now uses the experience and skills she developed working in international conflict environments to reduce the negative effects of conflicts closer to home.