Online Mediators as Firefighters

With 3 mediators (in Trinidad, England and Italy) yesterday we ran and video recorded an online mediation simulation of a dispute between a restaurant owner and a customer, caused by a message posted by the customer via Twitter.

In short, the customer had a blog “Best Seafood Restaurants in Louisiana” with 20,000 viewers, who posted their reviews or comments, and communicated either through that blog or via Twitter.

One day after the customer/blogger had had a pleasant dinner at “Best Seafood” (a 6-month-old small restaurant in New Orleans), she sent out this message via Twitter: “I feel sick… Yesterday evening had dinner at Best Seafood. Coincidence?”

Read immediately by thousands of followers (all seafood lovers), that Tweet had damaged the restaurant business and reputation. And that’s why the restaurant owner was interested to settle the whole thing as quickly as possible, with the assistance of an online mediator.

After our 1-hour online mediation simulation, we discussed whether one key benefit of online mediation is indeed the fact that online mediators can act like firefighters. In other words, they can:

  • Intervene in a conflict very fast
  • Hold an online mediation no matter in which city, state or country the parties happen to be, and no matter which device they have: PC, Mac or Mobile device
  • Help the parties “stop the fire” and figure out if their dispute can be settled before it escalates and causes even more damage

What do you think about this comparison between online mediators and firefighters? Does it make sense?

We welcome your comments.

Giuseppe Leone