“It is really up to you what you do with mediation. It is not really something that you can just be, you really have to work for it, to be a mediator. It is a lifestyle that you have to choose. You get back as much as you give.”
Kim, originally from Germany and Switzerland is a civil/commercial mediator, negotiator, associate arbitrator, civil/commercial mediation trainer, Rotarian, and a digital dispute resolution specialist based in London, UK. With a BA in Business Management Law, MA in International Law and she is a non-practicing barrister. After completing the mediation training course with ADR ODR International, Kim immediately fell in love with mediation. The reason was a realization that even during role-plays as a trainee, mediation is about getting to the root of the problem. Not only scratching the surface, but listening, going deeper, and taking down the barrier to solving problems. “I think that made me realize that mediation is a thing for me. It’s not just about what is right and what is wrong, it is about finding the best solution for two people, and hopefully bringing peace amongst them.”
In her career, she had an opportunity to train hundreds of delegates, both in-person and online. Speaking about people who take part in mediation training, Kim says that the majority of them are either recent graduates, current law students, or professionals who would like to become mediators. Often they already possess a law background. As a trainer, she finds it so interesting to see that in any single course, no matter where it takes place, i.e. UK, Pakistan, or Bangladesh, how at the beginning participant’s tend to think “I will never be able to do this”, and then change their mindset, learn how to think like a mediator and successfully complete the training. Especially coming from the lawyer mindset. Initially, they want to cross-examine people, to put them on the spot, find what is the truth and what is a lie. “That’s why I really enjoy being a mediation trainer. It is an opportunity to learn from the delegates. You pick up on something and they inspire you to be a better mediator” she adds.
Along with changing the mindset, another huge challenge for people pursuing mediation training, especially in the case of international mediation trainings, is overcoming cultural differences. Kim admits that during her career she has only been faced with very few cultural differences in personal mediation, but in terms of training, she encountered it a lot. Some very challenging, but also very valuable opportunities to learn from one another. If we want to become peacemakers, we have to learn how to deal with cultural differences.
Challenges and Opportunities
In the times of the COVID pandemic, there are voices of criticism towards online mediation, describing it as limited and non-efficient, however, Kim does not agree with that view. “Obviously it is different, harder for sure, but I don’t agree that it is such a barrier, that mediation shouldn’t be done online,” she says. Even online we have learned so much about human behavior, what people do online, for example getting closer to the camera, or further away, the way they speak, how they move their hands, etc. Kim says that initially moving online was a challenge, but now when most of her mediation experience is online, she thinks that it is actually an amazing opportunity to bring people together. “We have an opportunity to overcome many of the barriers that we had before. At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was very skeptical about taking anything online, especially mediation, but I think we have learned to adapt, and gathered new skills. We thought it was a disadvantage, but I think we have done a very good job at overcoming that. I am a true believer in online dispute resolution.” Obviously, it does not work for every type of mediation, but for many it does. For a civil/commercial mediator like Kim, most of the time online mediation works very well.
Balance in Life
There is one more thing in Kim’s background that stands out. In addition to her job as a mediation trainer, she is also a founder and director of the fashion jewelry company KVK73. During her studies, both Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Bar School, she used to work for fine jewelry companies, and finally in 2016 decided to start her own. “I’ve loved jewelry my whole life. My life is one-day mediation, one-day jewelry, two days mediation, two days jewelry. I wouldn’t be happy with just either one of them. I think it is a nice balance and a perfect life.” Kim can serve as an example that you do not have to give up on your dreams and decide to take just one path of life, it is possible to have the best of both worlds.
Article by Maciej Witek, MBBI Writer