Mediation is a process of third-party involvement in a dispute. A mediator cannot impose an outcome but rather assists the disputing parties in reaching their own agreement. Mediation can be used in a wide range of disputes, including labor disputes, public policy disputes, disagreements among nations, family disputes, and neighborhood and community quarrels. According to research, about 80% of dispute mediations lead to resolution.
A mediator must be able to command trust and confidence by building a rapport with the parties in the mediation process. Opponents must feel their interests are truly understood, because only then can a mediator reframe problems and float creative solutions.
Planning: Before the process begins, the mediator helps the parties decide where they should meet and who should be present.
Joint discussion: After each side presents its opening remarks, the mediator and the disputants are free to ask questions with the goal of arriving at a better understanding of each party’s needs and concerns.
Caucuses: If emotions run high during a joint session, the mediator might split the two sides into separate rooms for private meetings, or caucuses.
Negotiation: At this point, it’s time to begin formulating ideas and proposals that meet each party’s core interests—familiar ground for any experienced negotiator. A mediator can lead the negotiation with all parties in the same room, or may engage in “shuttle diplomacy,” moving back and forth between the teams, gathering ideas, proposals, and counterproposals.
These and other techniques and strategies are discussed in articles available at PON.
Francesca Gino, Program on Negotiation faculty member and author of the bestselling book, Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan, tackles this question from a Negotiation Briefings reader concerning how to deal with a mediator that is abrasive, dismissive, or even rude. … Read More
NP@PON collected many types of curriculum materials from teachers and trainers who attended the 2009 Mediation Pedagogy Conference. We received general materials about classes on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as well as highly specific and idiosyncratic units like Conflict Resolution through Literature: Romeo and Juliet and a negotiating training package for female managers from … Read More
If you manage people, disputes will show up at your door. The marketing VP protests that the budget cap you and your new finance VP proposed is hindering a research initiative you supported. Two young sales representatives are embroiled in a turf war. Your administrative assistant is upset because the HR director won’t approve the … Read More
The definition of mediation is often as contextual as the conflict it attempts to resolve. Mediation is often thought of as a last step to adjudicate disputes. In this article, professor Lawrence Susskind spells out the hidden advantages of using mediation early in the process to solve problems and reach voluntary compliance agreements. … Read More
Arbitration vs mediation: Traditionally, the arbitrator is not limited to selecting one of the parties’ contract proposals but may determine the contract terms on his own. If negotiators know that impasse will lead to traditional arbitration, they typically assume that the arbitrator will reach a decision that’s an approximate midpoint between their final offers. … Read More
Negotiations have reached an impasse, but both sides agree on one thing: you need help resolving the dispute. You engage a neutral mediator to do just that. Rather than acting as a judge who decides who “wins” or “loses,” a third-party mediator assists parties in reaching an agreement. … Read More
Worldwide, mediation has become a common means of resolving conflict, ranging from divorce to workplace disputes to broken contracts. Yet mediation remains an underused tool for resolving disputes in U.S. … Read More
Researchers Aleksander Ellis, Stephen Humphrey, and Donald Conlon of Michigan State University and Catherine Tinsley of Georgetown University have studied this new transactional form, which they call brokered ultimatum games, or BUGs. They define a BUG as any transaction involving an intermediary in which one side offers an ultimatum price that the other side either … Read More
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Understanding how to arrange the meeting space is a key aspect of preparing for negotiation. In this video, Professor Guhan Subramanian discusses a real world example of how seating arrangements can influence a negotiator’s success. This discussion was held at the 3 day executive education workshop for senior executives at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Guhan Subramanian is the Professor of Law and Business at the Harvard Law School and Professor of Business Law at the Harvard Business School.