As an addendum to my last post, I should perhaps explain why I used scare quotes around signposting.
As mediators, we can’t tell people what to do. We can tell people where to find information for themselves (which it’s now commonplace to call “signposting”), but not what information they should believe or disbelieve. But is this really a signpost?
Sometimes it’s a simple issue. If someone’s got a pension and they want to know how to get to it, it’s easy to point — so, signpost — them to the Pension Tracing Service. But where different opinions prevail about how to value a pension, or who should get a pension, or how to share a pension, or even whether to share a pension, as soon as a mediator points clients to an information source, s/he can be accused of bias.
So is it realistic to ask us to be signposts at all? Perhaps we need a better word — one that doesn’t raise expectations of mediators as paragons of impartiality in a world where information is seen as less impartial than ever before.