Mediation Checklist: What to Know When Hiring Mediators

How to create a mediation checklist and hire a mediator

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mediation checklist

Are you hiring a mediator? When considering a potential mediator, create a mediation checklist and ask the following questions of those who have worked with him in the past.

Mediation checklist question #1: Does the mediator operate from an interests-based perspective? (See Also: Salvaging the Deal)

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) offers negotiation role plays and complex multi-party negotiation exercises such as Tendley Contract, a two-play integrative negotiation between a computer consultant and a school district representative bargaining over different cost estimates.

The TNRC at PON offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. Tendley Contract is a two-party integrative contract negotiation between a computer consultant and a school district representative at an apparent impasse over different expectations over cost of services. Tendley Contract offers basic negotiation skills lessons involving contract negotiations and can be used to demonstrate the principles behind interests-based, integrative negotiation strategies.


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.


Mediation checklist question #2: Did the mediator develop a relationship of trust and confidence with you? (See Also: Relationship Rules and Business Negotiation)

Relationship building is key to integrative bargaining – and it begins before you ever sign an agreement. A few guidelines from Jeswald Salacuse’s The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing, and Mending Deals Around the World in the 21st Century include: start forming a relationship before writing a contract, select the right people to manage the relationship, and involve negotiators in the implementation phase of the negotiated agreement.

Mediation checklist question #3: Was the mediator creative? (See Also: Expanding the Pie – Integrative versus Distributive Negotiations)

Creative option generation is part of the integrative negotiations process. As discussed above in the Tendley Contract negotiation role play, creative option generation strategies are introduced as a core aspect of negotiation strategy.

Mediation checklist question #4: Was the mediator patient yet tenacious? (See Also: Using Mediators to Resolve Disputes)

Dispute resolution and conflict management sometimes requires a third-party neutral and, in the case of a mediator, one that is both flexible yet persistent in her pursuit of a resolution to the conflict. With parties in entrenched positions, mediators have to help ease each side towards tradeoffs and concessions that can pave the way to a negotiated agreement. Because mediators cannot impose settlements, they must rely upon a joint-effort by parties at negotiation table.

Mediation checklist question #5: Would you hire this mediator again? (See Also: Navigating the Mediation Process)

Regardless of whether the answer is yes or no, carefully consider the answers to the questions above before making your decision.

Related Mediation Article: Negotiation Examples in Real Life: The Importance of Interests in Negotiations Using Agents


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.


Originally published in 2013.

Comments

3 Responses to “Mediation Checklist: What to Know When Hiring Mediators”

  • Aled D.

    Some useful questions to ponder when hiring a mediator, it might also be helpful to clarify the term interests-based and how would you know that was the case.

    For me, I’d want to know that the mediator remained curious and explored deeper into the concerns of the parties. Mediation is effective because a mediator explores interests rather than accepts on face value the positions of the parties, which would inevitably lead to intransigence and the reason why they are choosing mediation over other formal processes. The interests of the parties represent the things that matter most for the parties – exploring these are a fundamental aspect of mediation.

    Developing a relationship of trust and confidence is a skill that every mediator must cultivate in order to create an environment where parties can be vulnerable in a conversation and feel safe doing so. There’s an insightful interview with David Richbell, one of Europe’s leading commercial mediators where he talks about the qualities of an effective mediator. He asserts that one’s capacity to build trust quickly will often distinguish one mediator from another, well worth watching if you want to understand more about choosing effective mediators. Hiring a Mediator

    Other attributes of effective mediators include creativity, tenacity and patience. I would say the mark of an effective mediator is one who can bring out creativity in the parties, who are often fixed in their perspectives.

    No mention of fees though!

    Reply
  • Stephan D.

    I would like to mention this description of qualities that I like and easy to remember because of the humor in it. Sorry but I don’ t find the source anymore: “Mediators need big ears to listen carefully to what the parties are saying, and clear eyes to read their body language.

    They need a hard head to give them the persistence needed to see the process through to a successful result.

    And they need a container in which to put their ego, as they strive to listen more, talk less, and focus on the problem rather than their own feelings.

    A mediator needs a big heart to empathise with each side while not committing firmly to either.

    And to allow the mediation to proceed efficiently, the mediator needs a big bladder – or at least, needs to avoid consuming beverages just before the mediation.

    Finally, the mediator’s body language should convey confidence: big feet firmly on the ground, no wavering.

    Reply
    • Keith L.

      That’s quite charming and informative Stephan. Thanks for adding to the discussion! Indeed, a mediator must persevere and truly set their own interests aside for the better of both the parties at the table.

      Reply

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