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.

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When Michael Bloomberg and NYC Teachers Both Lost

PON Staff   •  10/22/2020   •  Filed in Mediation

negotiation

It’s hard to imagine a negotiation example in which negotiating counterparts would choose to sacrifice hundreds of millions of dollars rather than reach agreement.

But back in 2013, this is the choice that New York City and its teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), made when they declared impasse on a new teacher evaluation … Read More 

A Mediation Intervention in Chicago

Katie Shonk   •  07/20/2020   •  Filed in Mediation

mediation

A contract dispute in the spring of 2019 between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and its musicians led to a disruptive seven-week strike, the longest in the venerable orchestra’s 128-year history. An unexpected intervention by Chicago’s departing mayor drew the dispute to a harmonious finale—and illustrates the role of the mediation process in conflict resolution.
Negotiations … Read More 

Ask A Negotiation Expert: Federal Mediation Comes Out of the Shadows

PON Staff   •  04/30/2020   •  Filed in Mediation

U.S. federal mediators often work on the front lines of high-profile labor-management disputes, yet—aiming for neutrality and confidentiality—tend to keep a low profile themselves. We spoke to Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) principal deputy director Gary Hattal about how the FMCS, which was founded in 1947, strives to meet its mission of promoting effective … Read More 

Using Online Dispute Resolution to Resolve Workplace Conflict

Katie Shonk   •  04/20/2020   •  Filed in Mediation

online dispute resolution

Many people are working from home these days, but that doesn’t mean disputes between employees have evaporated. In fact, the inability to hash things out in person might exacerbate long-simmering conflicts and leave people feeling even more alienated from one another. The stress we’re all facing from the threat of COVID-19 and disruptions to daily … Read More 

Negotiation research you can use: Bringing mediation into the technological era

PON Staff   •  09/30/2019   •  Filed in Mediation

Laptops, smartphones, databases, and project-management software have become common tools of the negotiation trade. Meanwhile, even as online dispute resolution has risen in popularity, the traditional practice of inperson mediation remains a largely technology-free zone, with smartphones often turned off and tucked away.

“The field of mediation has proved surprisingly resistant to technological influence, an island … Read More 

What is Divorce Mediation?

Katie Shonk   •  07/29/2019   •  Filed in Mediation

divorce mediation

A divorce can take years—and cost a small fortune—to resolve. The task of negotiating child and spousal support, dividing property and other possessions, and establishing child-custody arrangements can be overwhelming, especially when the principals are barely speaking to each other. In the worst-case scenario, separating spouses hire cutthroat lawyers to make rigid (and sometimes outrageous) … Read More 

Mandated Mediation: What to Expect

Katie Shonk   •  07/08/2019   •  Filed in Mediation

mandated mediation mediated communication

More and more companies are inserting alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clauses in their contracts with customers and vendors—and even, in some cases, in agreements with their own employees. ADR clauses can be beneficial for all concerned if it means avoiding the cost, delay, and uncertainty of going to court. Mandated mediation, in particular, may offer … Read More 

Managing Faultlines in Group Negotiations

PON Staff   •  04/23/2018   •  Filed in Mediation

Group negotiations are a fact of managerial life, yet the outcomes of teamwork are highly unpredictable. Sometimes groups cohere, reaching novel solutions to nagging problems, and sometimes infighting causes them to collapse. How can you predict when conflict will emerge in groups, and what can you do to stop it?

Dora Lau of the Chinese University … Read More 

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