Neighbour Mediation Case Study – April-June 2022

Neighbour Mediation Case Study – Practitioners Summary

Jamal was complaining that Paul was making noise deliberately, but Paul said that any noise was just household noise and there was nothing he could do about it.


It sounded like neither had responded pleasantly to the other over the problem, and each had accused the other of either causing, or threatening, physical violence towards them. Both cited numerous events, one in particular, where Paul’s partner had allegedly pushed Jamal down the stairs and Jamal had returned with a friend who was carrying a machete. Police had been involved.

The Joint Meeting:

The Mediation Meeting didn’t get off to a good start. As often happens after each neighbour has had their ‘uninterrupted speaking time’, Jamal and Paul complained about what they’d heard and what had happened in the past – frequently interrupting each other.

The use of Timeout:

We paused, reminded them of the ground rules, summarised what they’d said, describing the situation neutrally. They continued, we paused again, said what we saw was happening, reiterated that mediation’s a forward-looking process, asked if they had any ideas for resolving the issue. Back they went to protesting about the past and interrupting each other.

We paused once more and met Jamal and Paul separately. They both acknowledged interruptions were not helping. Paul said he wouldn’t stay much longer saying, “I told you mediation would be a waste of time.”

Uninterrupted Speaking Time:

They returned and things improved; they both spoke while the other listened. Jamal recounted things that a housing officer had told him about Paul and how these had tainted his view of Paul and the situation. Paul explained what had actually happened from his point of view and that was it – an amazing thing happened. They both relaxed and had a conversation with each other. And, as mediators, we sat back, said nothing, and listened.


By the end, they’d both admitted they could have done things differently and apologised to each other. They came up with a plan for working together to make things better. And Paul said, “I wasn’t expecting this from mediation.”

How good is that?

This mediation highlights that:

  • We can enable and encourage conversation between clients by employing the ground rule of a client not interrupting when the other is speaking.
  • We can help clients to learn about each other and to develop their own solutions by being judicious about remaining silent when they are speaking amicably together.
  • Conflict is often sustained because of the perceptions clients have of each other – usually caused by misunderstanding and miscommunication between them. Providing a safe place for these to be explored can make all the difference.

*The names have been changed for confidentiality.