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.
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
Knowing what to look for in a mediator is key to successful dispute resolution. Know what qualities to look for, the purpose of the mediator, and how alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes like mediation can benefit even the most entrenched disputes. … Read More
We generally think of mediation as a dispute-resolution device. Federal mediators intervene when collective bargaining breaks down. Diplomats are sometimes called in to mediate conflicts between nations. So-called multi-door courthouses encourage litigants to mediate before incurring the costs – and risks – of going to trial. … Read More
In 2009, we collected many types of curriculum materials from teachers and trainers who attended the 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 … Read More
Imagine leading negotiations involving representatives from most of the world’s nations on a contentious topic such as sustainable development. Where would you start? How would you proceed when conflict emerged? How would you know when it was time to wrap things up? … 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
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
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
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.