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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Get Ready for Team Talks

PON Staff   •  06/06/2011   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation

Adapted from “Strength in Numbers: Negotiating as a Team,” by Elizabeth A. Mannix (professor, Cornell University), first published in the Negotiation newsletter, May 2005.

The widespread belief in “strength in numbers” suggests that having more players on your team should be a benefit, not a burden. But this belief can lead team members to underprepare … Read More 

PON Chair Robert Mnookin Interviewed on Belgian Public Broadcast

PON Staff   •  02/22/2011   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation, Resources, Videos

PON Chair Robert Mnookin suggests 2010 Great Negotiator Martti Ahtisaari as a possible  international mediator who may be able to help solve the ongoing conflict in Belgium. Professor Mnookin notes that bringing in an outside mediator can help avoid “reactive devaluation,” or the devaluing of a possible solution simply because it was suggested by an … Read More 

Make Compensatory Payments in the Gulf Coast NOW!

PON Staff   •  09/24/2010   •  Filed in Mediation

Lawrence Susskind, Ford professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology; author of Built to Win; co-author of Breaking Robert’s Rules and Breaking the Impasse

The BP oil spill in the Gulf region inadvertently created a nightmare for mediators. In this posting, Lawrence Susskind lays out a reasonable plan that addresses prompt dispersal … Read More 

Are You Overlooking Mediation?

PON Staff   •  07/19/2010   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation

Adapted from “Why Aren’t Mediation and Arbitration More Popular?” First published in the Negotiation newsletter.

Many scholars have noted that the business community would greatly benefit from third-party dispute resolution services. The problem is, there isn’t much demand for mediation or arbitration. If the alternative dispute resolution field has in fact built a better mousetrap, why … Read More 

New Teaching Notes for Three Values-Based Mediation Simulations

PON Staff   •  06/05/2010   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation, Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation (Pedagogy @ PON)

NP@PON has developed several new Teaching Notes to accompany the three values-based and identity-based simulations described in the last NP@PON Newsletter.  The simulations are available along with an overview Teaching Note, individual teaching notes for each game, and an Annotated Bibliography. The overview Note offers extensive guidance on how to organize discussions about value-based disputes … Read More 

Crisis negotiations: how should the US engage with Iran?

PON Staff   •  02/03/2010   •  Filed in Mediation

Negotiation experts played a variety of roles in working through possible scenarios for negotiating with Iran over the issue of nuclear capability. As shown on the PBS television program, The Charlie Rose Show, the experts posed questions and “gamed out” different options, imagining possible responses of the other parties. PON affiliate Ehud Eiran participated in … Read More 

Mediating disputes on the job

PON Staff   •  01/26/2010   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation

Adapted from “Resolve Employee Conflicts with Mediation Techniques,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter.

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 … Read More 

Choosing a mediator

PON Staff   •  01/26/2010   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation

Adapted from “Beyond Blame: Choosing a Mediator,” by Stephen B. Goldberg (professor, Northwestern University), first published in the Negotiation newsletter.

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 … Read More 

New Live-Mediation Teaching Video Available for Purchase

PON Staff   •  01/05/2010   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation, Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation (Pedagogy @ PON)

What Makes a Good Mediator?

In preparation for last May’s Mediation Pedagogy Conference at Harvard Law School, NP@PON produced a video of an actual landlord-tenant small claims mediation – from start to finish, including side-bar conversations. It is rare that actual (as opposed to staged or acted) mediations are available for instructional purposes. The mediator in this case is Charles … Read More 

Summary of Mediation Pedagogy Conference Participant Survey Results

PON Staff   •  01/05/2010   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation, Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation (Pedagogy @ PON)

To better understand the teaching needs of the mediation community, Negotiation Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation (NP@PON) organized a Mediation Pedagogy Conference in May of 2009. In advance of the conference, an 18-question online survey was sent to the 175 conference presenters and registered participants. The 75% response rate allowed us to illuminate important … Read More 

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