Much literature exists on the benefits of writing notes by hand versus typing notes on an electronic device. There are costs and advantages for both methods. Most of the research in the field focuses on the techniques in a focus group capacity, or in interview settings. There is little to no conclusive scholarly research, however, that offers mediators a decisive opinion as to how each method impacts the ability to build trust among parties, and how to balance efficiency with that aspect necessary for any mediator to build. The nearest field to comment on trust-building in an information-gathering setting is in social anthropology, looking to how various recording tactics of a conversation impacts information shared. This article seeks to move past the benefits to the mediator and analyze each note-taking technique’s effect on the mediation itself, in building trust between the mediator and the parties, while also seeking to not diminish the efficiency of the mediator in recalling specific information obtained during the mediation.
Mediators, at all stages of a mediation, walk a fine line. They must determine, during the initial joint session, at what point each parties’ interactions with the other crosses from an appropriate airing of grievances and statement of positions to detrimental hostilities. They must be careful, in establishing rapport with each party, to maintain neutrality and refrain from advocating interests. They must also work with parties to ensure that positions are grounded in reality and convey offers in whole on complex matters.