Northern Ireland’s Enda Young was a member of the Young Mediators’ Initiative (YMI) and recently became IMI certified. We chat with him about his experiences.
What prompted you to specialise in mediation?
As a teenager growing up in Northern Ireland, I volunteered for a local peacebuilding, cross-community charity, the Spirit of Enniskillen and completed my first mediation training course with Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) through one of their programmes. As I was studying for my first degree in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast, I continued my mediation training in parallel to my formal studies and after I completed this initial degree, I went back to university to complete an MA in Theory, Culture and Identity focusing on conflict transformation.
Why did you join YMI? What did the organisation offer you as a young mediator?
I searched online for an umbrella organisation for international mediators and found the YMI. It provided me with a certificate and qualification to aim for.
What steps did you have to take to become a certified mediator? How did you find the process? Are there any challenges you faced during the process and if so, how did you overcome them?
Since I have been a certified mediator with the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII) for a few years, I contacted the local MII Qualifying Assessment Program for some assistance in connecting the MII with IMI. The local support from the MII was excellent. Before changing careers, I spoke with a few individuals for advice. One of those people was Sean O’Baoill. I sat down on a park bench with Sean around fifteen years ago and we talked about being involved in work that we were passionate about and “put fire in our belly”.
The final part of the process of becoming an IMI Certified Professional Mediator involved receiving a review digest by “a practising mediator, trainer, educator or other highly experienced professional (or ‘elder’) in the mediation field”. I could think of no better person than Sean after having subsequently worked with him for years when I was the Manager of Training and Mediation services for TIDES Training and Consultancy.
My biggest challenge over the years was initially finding cases to mediate. I think this is a common issue with many mediators around the world. Unfortunately, there are a great many more trained mediators than mediation cases; therefore, it can be a hard field to break into. I personally overcame this challenge buy persevering for years. I volunteered for every mediation case I could get and I had the privilege of working and learning from many skilled mediators in TIDES and MNI.
As the manager of mediation in TIDES, one solution we found to this problem was during the provision of a mediation service to the Northern Ireland Housing Association (NIHE). I designed a system that would allow each mediation case to have one paid certificated mediator be the lead on a case and each case would also have a second voluntary mediator. This second mediator had to have previously completed many hours of mediation training but they may not have had the opportunity to actually physically mediate cases. After six voluntary cases, the second mediator was put through a review process and depending on the quality, timing and learning involved in the cases they would be offered the opportunity of one further ‘transition’ case supervised by the lead mediator to allow them to become a paid mediator with the mediation service.
How do you feel now that you are a certified mediator with IMI? What does this accomplishment signify for you?
I am proud of my decision years ago to make what is both a passion and a hobby into my career. It was the right decision to make. Becoming an IMI certificated mediator has been a personal goal for a few years now and it signifies an important professional milestone in my mediation career. When I deliver mediation training to businesses, community groups or universities internationally, it gives me an additional level of credibility.
What advice would you give to YMI members who would like to become IMI certified?
Follow your passion and keep going. There are many non-linear ways into this field and it might take more time than you think to establish your own credibility. Enjoy every mediation that you are invited into, regardless of how long and complex a case may be as there is always something to be learned. Pay attention to the small details of the mediators you work with along the way and mirror their best aspects – how they prepare for a case, the tone of voice they use when things get difficult, the particular phrases they use to deescalate a situation, and so on. Above all, never forget that it is a genuine privilege to be invited to spend time with people when they are hurt, angry or in pain due to a conflict.
Interview by Petrina Ampeire Bireije. Written by Petrina Ampeire Bireije and Ruxandra Gheorghe.
Enda Young is a mediator, trainer and facilitator with a specific interest in negotiation, leadership, experiential learning and the use of technology for conflict resolution. He currently works at the William J Clinton Leadership Institute in Queen’s University Belfast of Northern Ireland and can be reached at email@example.com.