What does one do when one gets into a disagreement in AEGEE and can’t seem to find an amicable solution? Met AEGEE’s peacemakers, the Mediation Commission! They can be approached at any time to resolve conflict and bring back the peace we all love. We decided to have a chat with them to get a better insight into who they are and how they work.
Well, first things first. May we have a little introduction about who you are and what you do?
We are Natascha, Paulina and Yusuf and we are the current members of the Mediation Commission. The Mediation Commission is responsible for supporting members of AEGEE to resolve conflicts of any kind and aims to find a solution that makes all involved parties happy.
What is the process of mediating like? Can you give us a short run through?
First, we talk with each of the parties separately and let them present their side of the story. In this way, we can find out everybody’s interests, needs and expectations on how to resolve the problem. This is essential for finding an amicable settlement.
Once it is done, we have a conversation with both parties together and try to find a common ground where all of the parties’ needs are met. During the whole communication process, we are completely neutral: we are trying to accept all parties’ opinions equally and do not propose our own solution for the issue. Our job is to guide involved parties to find a common resolution together. Since we work mostly online, the process can sometimes be long and exhausting but reaching a settlement is even more rewarding at the end.
What made you go and say “yup, this is my commission, I’m joining!”?
There are many good reasons to join the Mediation Commission. Anyway, we suppose one of the main is a wish to bring harmony within AEGEE. It is a fulfilling and engaging task to do on one hand. On the other hand, it is also a big responsibility, as you are trying to solve and prevent conflicts within our association and be there for people. After all, it is a great opportunity to learn more and deeper about people and just generally educate yourself.
Okay, you got in! What was it like?
Probably for everyone joining a Commission, there is a lot of information overflow in the beginning. There is a KT from the old team and it is very helpful to learn how the Mediation Commission works by reviewing old case examples. It is a common practice for new MedCommies to read most of the old Slack channels and the documents related to older cases which is actually a really intriguing thing to do! We were also lucky that two of us were at the same NWM shortly after our term started, so we could do teambuilding and directly felt the team spirit from the very beginning.
Were there challenges? Are there still some?
There are always challenges when working in the field of conflict resolution. If one party in the process is not willing to work on the problem, no mediator can resolve the case. Luckily this happens rather rarely, so most challenges we had (most of which we are not allowed to talk about) can be tackled.
Probably one of the biggest challenges is the visibility of the Mediation Commission, as we normally work behind the scenes. People do not usually see or can evaluate our work somehow, so in case someone has a problem, many people are not aware that they can contact us. Additionally, it can also lead to problems with finding new members.
If we deal with a very emotional case, it can also be emotionally draining for the MedCom members. Daniel Amez expressed this with a comparison once: “as a MedCom member you are like a sponge – you take people’s negative feelings and you soak them in yourself.” However, it is definitely worth it and as you work in a team you can always support each other!
Is there any previous knowledge, educational background, or experience that comes handy in this commission?
Of course training in communication, mediation or conflict management does come very handy. Right now none of our committee members is pre-trained or have a professional background. Alas, the ability to be empathetic and to maintain neutrality is a good precondition to develop skills in this field. We also have some literature available in our Google Drive which can help to get a better overview.
What is the “perfect mediation commission member” like?
The “perfect mediation commissioner” always thinks critically and questions their own opinion. They have the ability to remain neutral even if they have very strong emotions about a discussed topic. They have a deep interest in understanding other peoples’ actions and the will and motivation to familiarize themselves with mediation and communication theories.
So some people are reading this, and like you before them can’t wait to join. How can they do it? (future-mediation-commission-members you’re welcome)
If the candidatures do not reach a number of 3 by 05th of May you can still apply via my.aegee.eu until 2 weeks before the Agora. They can also contact us first if they have any more questions about it.
Anything else you want to add?
In case you need advice or help in any kind of conflict situation please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org! And of course: apply for MedCom!