Mediation

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.

As compared with other forms of dispute resolution, mediation can have an informal, improvisational feel. It can include some or all of the following mediation techniques for conflict resolution:

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.


Download this FREE special report, Mediation Secrets for Better Business Negotiations: Top Techniques from Mediation Training Experts, to discover mediation techniques for selecting the right mediator, understand the mediation process and learn how to engage the mediator to ensure a good outcome from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

How to Deal with a Difficult Mediator

PON Staff   •  07/26/2016   •  Filed in Mediation

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 

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Training: Mediation Curriculum

PON Staff   •  07/19/2016   •  Filed in Mediation

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 

How Your Organization Can Benefit from Mediation Techniques

Katie Shonk   •  07/14/2016   •  Filed in Mediation

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 

Arbitration vs Mediation: The Definition of Mediation as a Problem Solving Process

Lawrence Susskind   •  07/11/2016   •  Filed in Mediation

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: What’s Wrong with Traditional Arbitration?

PON Staff   •  06/27/2016   •  Filed in Mediation

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 

What is a “Brokered Ultimatum”?

PON Staff   •  06/09/2016   •  Filed in Mediation

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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