Preparation for mediation - PFM in 2022

Written by Simon Dadley-Moore

Preparation for Mediation (PFM) has come a long way since its beginnings in 2015. So has the world we live in! In our current climate of complexity, ambiguity and fear; there seems to be a recognisable increase in binary thinking and more positional dispute behaviour.

It's times like these that highlight the value of PFM and the benefits of a pre-mediation service to support and challenge parties to initiate shifts to a more conversational process and child focussed approach.

“Thank you for helping me reclaim myself! It wasn’t easy but when he tried to wind me up I was ready and kept my thoughts balanced therefore keeping my head.  I responded without defending or fighting back using many of the new responses we worked on. It was long as you prepared me for but we got a result in the end. I couldn’t have done this without your tools and advice. I now feel some hope for the future. Thank you soooo much.”

PFM provides parties with the self-awareness, motivation and tools to change the way they engage in their dispute, thus changing the dispute itself. It is a mediation enhancing process with a proven record of increasing the likelihood of parties reaching agreement in mediation.

People arrive at mediation because their attempts to resolve their issues so far haven’t worked. Too often people then attend a joint mediation meeting and participate in the same old ways. The same ways of talking, listening, negotiating, thinking and behaving. And if nothing changes, nothing changes. PFM works with people prior to their mediation to help them understand this at a deep level. If they want a new and different outcome then they have to embrace new and different ways.

PFM focuses on assisting parties to identify possible constructive behavioural changes and upskill in these areas. Most often this centres around communication. Changes in the way people talk and present their stories as well as the way they respond, changes in listening and negotiating and in their body language. 

Focusing solely on behavioural change however is often not enough. Both cognitive science and neuroscience have proven that human behaviour is at all times influenced by a person’s thinking, feelings, emotions and physiology. To help people successfully change their behaviour, they also need to make shifts in their ‘inner world’. PFM also supports people with the tools to better regulate and optimise their physiology, emotions, feelings and thinking.

It is through these internal shifts that a person’s capacity to carry out new behaviours in the mediation setting is improved.

PFM outcomes include improvement in a person’s:

  • ability to shift unhelpful patterns of communication, behaviour and thought.
  • willingness and capacity to listen.
  • ability to engage in conversation without attack or getting defensive.
  • focus on future and solution focused narratives.
  • capacity to regulate their thoughts, emotions and physiology and therefore lower their negative emotional arousal.
  • understanding of their contribution to the solution.
  • ability to maintain an open mind during the mediation process and an increased awareness of their behaviour and how it helps or hinders in the mediation.

Are the parties in your mediations accessing PFM?

If one or both are not, consider taking the time to explain to them the benefits of PFM. If they want to optimise their chances of finding agreements in mediation, 1.5 hours of their time to participate in PFM, is a small price to pay. The PFM team are responsive and able to provide a prompt service when required so as not to delay a mediation.

The current PFM providers are: David Robinson, Hal Kennedy, Mandy Hatton, Paul Muir, Nadine Hall-Lowe, Martha Kelly, Di Higgins, Lorraine Guthrie, Karen Allsop, Amy Oberkircher and Simon Dadley-Moore.

We are passionate about PFM. About helping parties to turn up and participate in mediation constructively. This then supports you as mediators to get the most out of your parties, and in turn helps the parties get the most out of mediation.