Definition of "Mediation" and "Conciliation"

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Mediation is the concept of making peace between aggravated parties. It is an ancient practice, and is carried out by a peace-maker. Mediation comes into play when two or more parties come together to discuss their differences and settle their differences. Mediation has been used among people, nations, litigants, labor and government, etc. A mediator, who is an outsider, may be present for settlement of disputes. The mediator's role is to assist the parties in their negotiations.


Conciliation is generally the process of encouraging the aggravated parties to come together for mediation. In industrial relations however, the distinctions between the terms 'mediation' and 'conciliation' are negligible, and this trend also applies to other countries. Therefore, conciliation may be defined as the services of a third party that are used in a dispute as a means of helping the disputing parties to reduce the extent of their differences and to arrive at a settlement or mutually agreed solution. Conciliation tends to bring a speedy solution to industrial disagreements, hence, avoiding unnecessary strikes and lock-outs.

Role of a conciliator:

A conciliator's function is to define a series of steps toward settlement of differences between the parties seeking reconciliation. A conciliator may open a series of options, attitudes, and offer alternative possibilities of settlement. The roles of a conciliator are summarized below:

a. Discussion Leader

A conciliator encourages a clear and friendly communication, creates a safe environment, and discourages any bias or antagonism between the parties.

b. Safety Valve

A conciliator may be placed between the aggravated parties and may take on collateral damage without damaging the atmosphere of conciliatory meetings.

c. Communication link

A conciliator may serve as an important communication link between the aggravated parties.

d. An innovator

A conciliator may offer new suggestions and priorities, and provide the parties different views to the solution.

e. A sounding board

A conciliator may step in between any heated arguments taking place during the conciliatory process.

f. Protector

A conciliator may be a protector of the parties while preparing the parties for a collective bargaining position during separate meetings.

h. A stimulator

A conciliator may motivate the parties to a peaceful solution by supporting good arguments from opposing sides.

i. An advisor

A conciliator ensures that misunderstandings don't occur between the parties, and that room is open only to responsible discussions.

j. A face saver

A conciliator may get the defeated party a form of accommodating settlement, which, in reality, holds on real value. This is done in order to mask the loss of face or prestige of the losing party.

k. Promoter of collective bargaining

A conciliator promotes collective bargaining and development of a mutual understanding between the parties.

Additional Readings:

1. Definition and Evolution of Industrial Relations
2. Concept, Scope and Objectives of Industrial Relations
3. Conceptual Model for understanding Industrial Relations
4. Labor National Commission and Industrial Relations Policy - 1969
5. Industrial Dispute
6. Indian Industrial Dispute Act of 1947
7. Parameters and Classification of Industrial Disputes
8. Types of Industrial Strikes
9. Tripartite and Bipartite Bodies, and Industrial Settlement
10. Definition of "Mediation" and "Conciliation"

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