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Conflict personalities is a generic term used to describe people who are abnormally and excessively difficult to get along with in everyday life. In mediation, we usually find them to be the parties who are "stuck" and unable to move forward to a workable resolution of the issues.
By using caucus effectively, mediators can greatly increase the likelihood of the parties reaching an agreement during the mediation. Quite often, what occurs in caucus creates a turning point in the mediation.
What we ask, how we ask it, the spirit in which we ask, and the form and sequence of our questions all invite some responses and discourage others. As mediators, what we do and how we do it influences the experience of the parties. Our questions focus attention on what people consider about the situation.
When the participants have reached agreements on all of the agenda items, it is time to review notes and any interim agreements made in order to summarize the information from earlier in the sessions. At this point the mediator's role is to help participants add specificity, test for durability, resolve any additional issues that surface during this time, and act as scribe. Mediators do not compose the agreements, but rather assist the parties in writing their own agreements.
Coaching can be a valuable tool in mediation and the results can greatly benefit the parties and their situation. Coaching and feedback edge up to a fine line of appropriate and ethical mediator interventions.