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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Equal Time in Mediation

PON Staff   •  05/18/2012   •  Filed in Mediation

Some scientists have long tried to identify the key drivers of success in resolving disputes. Several factors have been proposed: individualized contact that goes beyond the superficial, equal status among parties, commitment to a common goal, and institutional support. Studies have shown that when such conditions are met, parties’ attitudes toward one another often improve.

Other … Read Equal Time in Mediation

Moving Forward in Mediation Together

PON Staff   •  03/19/2012   •  Filed in Mediation

The teacher’s federation has qualms with the current education bill’s stipulations regarding the scheduling and terms for mediation between the federation and provincial government. The government is open to further negotiations, but refuses to offer more money. Susan Lambert, president of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation, asserts that the government is acting in bad faith, … Read Moving Forward in Mediation Together

New York courts offer judge directed negotiations for medical malpractice lawsuits

PON Staff   •  08/26/2011   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation

Settlement negotiations for medical malpractice lawsuits often occur late in the litigation process, when adversarial positions have become well-entrenched, and parties have little or no inclination to compromise. In an effort to improve the success rate of these settlement negotiations, some courts in New York State are now offering “judge-directed negotiations” for parties involved … Learn More About This Program

Negotiating the Gender Gap

PON Staff   •  08/17/2011   •  Filed in Mediation

Is there a social cost for women who negotiate assertively for themselves in the workplace? Research suggests that women who negotiated higher compensation are viewed by evaluators as being more “demanding,” which leads to a disinclination to work with them in the future. In our most recent “Dear Negotiation Coach” feature in the … Read Negotiating the Gender Gap

Shuttle diplomacy examined in July issue of Negotiation Journal

PON Staff   •  08/03/2011   •  Filed in Daily, Mediation

In the July 2011 issue of Negotiation Journal, mediator David Hoffman takes a thoughtful look at the role of caucusing in mediation in an article entitled “Mediation and the Art of Shuttle Diplomacy.” The practice of meeting separately with each disputant, while widespread, is not without controversy. Critics have argued that these private sessions give … Learn More About This Program

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 Get Ready for Team Talks

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 … Learn More About This Program

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 Make Compensatory Payments in the Gulf Coast NOW!

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 Are You Overlooking Mediation?

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