#19: Mediator Tom Melancon

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

After 15 years spent working as a wordsmith or a spin doctor (depending on who you ask), I found myself wanting to change tracks. I was drawn to mediation because it seemed to require many of the same skills (in mediation, spin is called “reframing”) and yet it has such an appealing goal: rather than working for, say, a few more points of market share, I would be (cue the music!) Brokering Peace. Maybe not *world* peace, but peace nonetheless.

Mediators help divorced parents create parenting plans…they help feuding neighbors arrive at workable arrangements…they help businesses resolve disputes…they facilitate difficult workplace conversations that might otherwise lead to litigation. It’s very, very satisfying stuff. But it turns out that it’s also a hard way to make a living. In my conversation with Tom, we discussed both issues: the incredible appeal of mediation on the one hand, and the difficulty of making a career out of it on the other.

About Tom Melancon: Tom Melancon is a certified mediator who manages the largest ‘shared neutrals’ mediation program in the United States: the Seattle Federal Executive Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program. Through this program, a consortium of 80 mediators (most of whom are federal employees themselves) conduct hundreds of mediations and facilitations every year for a wide range of government agencies. The program, which typically achieves annual settlement rates that exceed 85% and is credited with saving federal agencies millions of dollars each year, has now been emulated in cities nationwide.


  1. Tom Melancon says:

    Thanks for the interview Kate. It was fun to do and I’m glad I didn’t trip over my tongue too many times!

  2. Martin says:

    I really enjoyed that. Very insightful!

  3. teresa price says:

    I thought the interview was very interesting . I think it would be great if there were more mediators for company employees because it would solve a lot of problems. It’s always better when the mediator is not involved in the company. It was a very good interview and I learned a lot.

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