Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

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Also known as:
Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator, Mediation Commissioner, Ombudsman

Video transcript

Going to a court to settle a divorce or a business dispute can take years and thousands of dollars. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators offer an alternative approach. They are trained to help resolve disagreements, improve communication, and strengthen relationships through procedures that are far less formal than a court trial.

With arbitration, each side must first agree to be bound by the decision reached by the arbitrator. In some cases, there may be more than one arbitrator. Just like in court, each party gets to tell their side of the story. This may involve calling in witnesses and presenting evidence. The arbitrator listens, takes notes, and asks questions. When both sides have presented their case, it's up to the arbitrator to decide what would be the fairest resolution to the conflict. The arbitrator's ruling is usually final.

With mediation and conciliation, the idea is to try to get the conflicting sides to solve their problems through the help of a third party. Mediators and conciliators encourage both sides to discuss the issues and try to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.

Most discussions with arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are kept confidential. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators may be lawyers, but they don't have to be. Some have studied conflict management and dispute resolution in college or graduate school. Some are businesspeople with experience in the matter being disputed. Some have been trained by mediation centers or training institutes.

But all arbitrators and mediators must be impartial - with no personal stake in the outcome. Since they're often dealing with tense situations, they need to have even tempers, patience, and good negotiating skills. If they do their job well, they can help people resolve their differences without the expense and distress of a battle in court.

Facilitate negotiation and conflict resolution through dialogue. Resolve conflicts outside of the court system by mutual consent of parties involved.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Use mediation techniques to facilitate communication between disputants, to further parties' understanding of different perspectives, and to guide parties toward mutual agreement.

Apply relevant laws, regulations, policies, or precedents to reach conclusions.

Prepare written opinions or decisions regarding cases.

Research laws, regulations, policies, or precedent decisions to prepare for hearings.

Set up appointments for parties to meet for mediation.

Confer with disputants to clarify issues, identify underlying concerns, and develop an understanding of their respective needs and interests.

Rule on exceptions, motions, or admissibility of evidence.

Conduct hearings to obtain information or evidence relative to disposition of claims.

Conduct initial meetings with disputants to outline the arbitration process, settle procedural matters, such as fees, or determine details, such as witness numbers or time requirements.

Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Personnel and Human Resources Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Economics and Accounting Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Negotiation Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.