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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How to Deal with a Difficult Mediator

PON Staff   •  11/01/2016   •  Filed in Uncategorized

3 Types of Conflict and How to Address Them

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 

How to Conduct a Mediation During Crisis Negotiations

PON Staff   •  08/02/2016   •  Filed in Uncategorized

The most difficult peace negotiations in recent decades—in Ireland, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and Sri Lanka—were plagued by a common enemy: violent disruptions by spoilers opposed to the peace process. In each of these cases, extremists stalled negotiations by creating security crises that divided public opinion and drove negotiators apart. … Read More 

How Your Organization Can Benefit from Mediation Techniques

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

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 

What is a “Brokered Ultimatum”?

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

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 

Is Mediation Expertise What You Need?

PON Staff   •  05/31/2016   •  Filed in Uncategorized

When a negotiation escalates into a dispute, most managers understand the value of seeking out a mediator for professional assistance with the matter. The question of whom to hire, however, is less clear-cut. What type of expetise should your mediator have, and where should you look for her? In this article, we will walk you … Read More 

Dealing with an Abrasive Mediator

PON Staff   •  04/08/2016   •  Filed in Uncategorized

QUESTION

I work for a firm that distributes products in South America. In the past few months, we have been in a very heated conflict with a customer who claims we did not fill an order as specified by our five-year contract. My firm disagrees. Because we seem to be interpreting our contract differently, I suggested … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

PON Staff   •  06/09/2015   •  Filed in Uncategorized

Q: As a senior manager at my company, I have spent most of the past year trying to settle litigation with another company in our industry. We are about to go into our third mediation session in a few weeks. However, I have just been promoted to a job where I will have responsibility for … Read More 

How Does Mediation Work?

PON Staff   •  03/23/2015   •  Filed in Uncategorized

How does mediation work in practice? As compared with other forms of dispute resolution, mediation can have an informal, improvisational feel. Mediation can include some or all of the following six steps, writes Kimberlee K. Kovach in The Handbook of Dispute Resolution (Jossey-Bass, 2005):

1. Planning. Before mediation begins, the mediator helps the parties decide where … Read More 

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