Frequently Asked Questions

You should mediate if you are involved in a challenging situation with someone, would like for it to be improved, are willing to have an honest conversation about it and are willing to work to improve it. You should mediate if you value and care about dialogue and healthy workplace relationships with your coworkers. Sometimes mediation prevents grievances and/or lawsuits. The potential gain and what it would take to get there usually outweighs the "costs" and risks involved.

People choose mediation because it is faster, informal, and likely to yield a result that really addresses the problem that people are experiencing. Because it focuses on finding mutually acceptable solutions, working relationships are often strengthened rather than damaged by findings of "winner" and "loser."

Research has shown that agreements reached through mediation are almost always honored because the people involved in the conflict have decided for themselves what they will do.

Mediation is a benefit offered to all UMKC employees to help them manage their workplace issues and disputes. This can include students who are employed by the university in some capacity to mediate a dispute with a UMKC co-worker.

There is no cost to UMKC employees for mediation services. Campus Mediation Services reserves the right to charge fees for any services not pertaining to mediation.

The real cost of engaging in mediation is time which might better be perceived as an investment. While mediation can be time consuming, often it is more time efficient because people spend less time engaging in successful mediation than the ultimate time that is lost due to morale and productivity declines when coworkers experience conflict.

The program director does not share identifying information about who contacts her without your permission. Statistical information is kept about the nature of the contact and services provided, but this will not include any identifying information. If you desire mediation, the program director will contact the other participant about setting up mediation. Sometimes supervisors will refer parties to mediation, however, after the program director.

Sometimes supervisors contact Campus Mediation Services to refer cases to mediation. However, after the parties make a decision about whether to engage in mediation, the program director does not share information about those participants with the supervisor.

Retaliation is strictly prohibited under current employment practices. There will be no retaliation against UMKC staff and faculty who request mediation or participate in mediation. If you believe you have been retaliated against for requesting or participating in mediation:

  1. Notify the program director, Campus Mediation Service, ext. 2373 or, the matter will be immediately referred to the Division of Diversity, Access & Equity, or
  2. Directly contact the Division of Diversity, Access & Equity, for immediate investigation.
    Mediation is an opportunity to improve a difficult situation through honest and candid communication.

As such, it should not be perceived as a situation where one would feel the need to retaliate.  Hopefully, people aren't likely to feel threatened by the prospect of an honest dialogue intended to improve a challenging circumstance.

*Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may call Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).

Campus Mediation Services does not tell people that you contacted us or are engaging in mediation unless you request or give us permission to do so. The only mediators aware of your contact or involvement with us are those contacted to provide mediation services after both participants have agreed to mediate and had a chance to review the list of mediators for conflicts of interest. Parties are strongly encouraged to discuss how they want to handle confidentiality and make agreements accordingly.

Read the Confidentiality Policy

We have a roster of volunteer mediators who were selected because they have a reputation on campus as good listeners who are credible and trustworthy. All mediators are UMKC employees who have completed 20 hours of training in workplace mediation and engage in ongoing skill development. Some mediators are relatively new and some have a great deal of mediation training and/or experience. While there are stark differences between mediation and counseling, several of the mediators hold a Ph.D. in a counseling related field.

The program director has both a law degree and an advanced degree in law, has been mediating for more than 25 years and has personally conducted more than one thousand mediations for various kinds of disputes.

The program director and mediators are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of mediation conversations and are accountable to the UMKC Campus Mediation Services Code of Conduct.

Participants will not engage in mediation with mediators they know or are otherwise uncomfortable using as mediators. If a participant knows all of the UMKC mediators, every effort will be made to bring in an outside mediator. While the program director is aware of all mediation participants and potential participants, only those mediators asked by the director to engage in mediation with specific participants are aware that those participants are seeking mediation. Prospective mediators are only contacted about engaging in mediation with specific participants after the program director has met with both people and both have indicated their desire to mediate. The mediators not specifically involved in the mediation are not aware of who is engaging in mediation or inquiring about mediation.

Ideal situations for workplace mediation are ones where both parties are willing to recognize their role and responsibility in the conflict and are willing to engage in potentially difficult, honest communication and work hard to improve the situation. Also, people who can find hope and optimism within themselves to vision an outcome better than the current situation and are willing to collaborate to generate real options based on the interests and agreements of all involved experience mediation as rewarding. Mediation is often a helpful resolution tool in situations involving perceptions, conclusions, and communication problems.

Almost any type of workplace conflict, large or small, long-term or recent, is appropriate for mediation.

Conflicts resulting from serious misconduct, however, are best handled through other campus procedures. Complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination will be referred to the Director of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action..

Conflicts, which have resulted in the filing of a grievance, can be mediated. However, the time frames for the grievance procedure will not be extended. If this describes your situation and you want to try mediation, notify the program director when you contact the Campus Mediation Service and the mediation will be scheduled promptly.

If the conflict has been addressed through another dispute resolution procedure, such as the grievance process, there may be limitations on what type of decisions the participants can make. Nonetheless, mediation can be an excellent opportunity to talk about the future working relationship.

Mediation is not advisable in situations where violence has been an issue, although exceptions can be made when appropriate. Mediation is not appropriate if one party cannot commit to acting in good faith, has a strong need to be perceived as right or for "truth" to be determined. Situations involving possible sexual harassment or illegal discrimination need to be directed to the Division of Diversity, Access & Equity for possible action. The appropriateness of these situations for mediation can only be determined after referral and decisions made by the office of the Division of Diversity, Access & Equity. Participants need to be able to negotiate on their own behalf (although including an advisor is a possibility) and communicate about their perspectives and interests. If people cannot understand that the other party has a viewpoint and experience which might contrast theirs and be involved in a discussion that includes this, then mediation might not be appropriate for them.

You are encouraged to resolve the conflict yourself if you can and feel comfortable doing so. If you would like some support and information to help you resolve the conflict yourself, the Campus Mediation Services Program Director will be happy to assist you. If you don't feel comfortable trying to resolve it yourself or if your efforts have not produced the improved outcome you were hoping for, then that might be a good time to turn to mediation.

It is often very tricky to resolve challenging situations or participate in difficult conversations, and some people appreciate the opportunity to have an impartial, trained third person available to provide a structured communication process and invoke some communication ground rules. Part of the mediator's role is to help people "hear" each other and provide guidance about miscommunications and misperceptions. Mediators are often used because parties find it helpful to have a neutral trained third person to guide the process and keep the communication on track.

Mediation is a voluntary process and as such both parties need to agree to mediate before mediation can take place. If mediation does not occur, sometimes the Campus Mediation Services program director can help participants access other resources to try to improve the situation.

It's helpful if you can:

  • communicate on your own behalf;
  • participate rationally in a conversation with the other participant;
  • listen to the other person (listening is not the same as agreeing);
  • willingly engage in a problem solving process;
  • focus on searching for mutually agreeable solutions; and
  • make and keep future commitments or follow through on a mutually agreed upon plan of action.

Both people and organizations "get used to" handling conflict in a certain way. It can be unsettling to think about responding to conflict differently. At the same time, choosing to react differently to conflict can be exciting and can open up new possibilities.

The Mediation Services Program Director will work with you to provide information, answer your questions, and refer you to other resources that make you feel more confident about talking directly to the person with whom you have the conflict.

Mediation is a rational problem solving process that focuses on searching for mutual agreements based on the party's respective interests. It is not therapy or counseling.

Mediation is not a process for determining truth or who is right. Therefore, if you have a strong need for either of those outcomes, mediation may not be the appropriate process.

Because you are the decision-maker in mediation, the mediator will work with you to be sure you have all the information you need to feel comfortable in making any final agreements. If you would like to have an advisor accompany you, that can be arranged; the other person has the same option.

The Campus Mediation Program wants you to be successful with this new approach!