What makes a good mediator? And how is it that mediators—who themselves lack any power to impose a solution—nevertheless often lead bitter disputants to an agreement?
One of the central skills of a good mediator is the ability to solve problems. They are process specialists, adept at moving people from narrow positional bargaining toward a problem-solving approach.
And though mediators have no power to impose an outcome on the parties involved, they can put forth proposals that meet the interests of both parties. They don’t respond to irrational behavior, and they don’t make unilateral concessions to win one party over the other.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that a good mediator is able to build relationships. According to a survey by Northwestern University law professor Stephen Goldberg, veteran mediators believe that establishing rapport is more important to effective mediation than employing specific mediation techniques and tactics. Before people are willing to settle, they must feel that their interests are truly understood.
This is true even when the mediator doesn’t have the technical knowledge to discuss a problem. A good mediator doesn’t need to fully understand the technical aspects of a problem to assess why the dispute is important to each party and which solutions each party might accept. By beginning with this knowledge and eventually exchanging settlement proposals, the interest-based mediator can help parties resolve the most complex technical problems.
Suppose you want to hire a mediator to help you resolve a conflict that you’re having with an individual or a company, but for various reasons, meeting face-to-face would be difficult. That’s where online mediation comes in.
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Most business people understand the value of using mediation to resolve conflicts, but did you know that professional mediators can help you reach an agreement during the dealmaking phase? Stephen Goldberg, professor emeritus at Northwestern School of Law, describes how you can hire a mediator to aid both parties in creating value at the negotiating … Read More
When negotiators can’t come to agreement but want to avoid an expensive, time-consuming, and potentially rancorous lawsuit, mediation is often their most logical choice. Mediation can help to resolve a wide range of disputes.
… Read How Mediation Works
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 How to Deal with a Difficult Mediator
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
This past June, a long-standing family feud erupted in public when Arthur S. Demoulas, an owner of the New England low-price grocery chain Market Basket, fired his cousin Arthur T. Demoulas, also an owner, from his position as the company’s CEO. Many of the company’s 25,000 employees, who had received good wages, bonuses, and profit … Read When a private dispute goes public
Tucked away in an idyllic corner of Maine is a summer camp that features many traditional American activities: singing around bonfires, flag raising ceremonies, Color Wars, and chilly dips in the lake. Less ordinary, however, are the daily dialogue sessions, where Israeli and Palestinian campers heatedly discuss their identities, homelands, politics, and pain.
Meet Seeds of … Read Planting the Seeds of Peace