What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a way to resolve disputes between parties which can be quick, confidential and at a very low cost. Mediated resolution has proven extremely successful in resolving a wide variety of disputes when parties agree to participate. A high percentage of disputes can be resolved through mediation, and agreements are generally reached after a single two to three hour session.
With the assistance of a mediator parties settle their own disputes. Using a variety of resolution techniques, effective communication, exploring options, and using creative problem-solving mediation aims to reach a workable solution for all parties. A trained mediator can facilitate a highly constructive process where participants meet face to face to discuss their concerns.
The Role of the Mediator
Good mediators act as objective third parties. They do not take sides or impose solutions. In most cases, a mediator uses a facilitative approach, modeling effective communication skills with the goal of empowering both parties and assisting them to recognize responsibility and accountability.
A mediator’s main task is to:
* Facilitate negotiations between two or more disputants
* Model and encourage effective communication skills between the parties
* Assist them to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement
* Control the process (not the substance) and ensure that negotiations take place in a fair and balanced manner
* Ensure that each person is given an equal opportunity to be heard and to respond to what is said by the other thus ensuring full exploration of the underlying interests of all parties
How Does it Work?
A mediation session normally begins by addressing the parties, to explain the format and outline the process. Each party will be invited to make a brief statement summarizing their case. With the assistance of the mediator the parties will then work toward a resolution. Often the mediator will have a series of private, confidential meetings with the parties.
The mediator discusses issues with the parties that they may wish to keep confidential, and provide some settlement options. Discussions do not simply revolve around legal issues, but also explore any business or personal interests that may need to be considered to reach an acceptable agreement.
Mediation does not always result in the case settling. In some cases the mediator may follow-up on the telephone and facilitate closure. In other cases, the parties may simply need time to reflect on their own perspective gained in the mediation and will arrive at a settlement on their own shortly after the session.