We generally think of mediation as a dispute-resolution device. Federal mediators intervene when collective bargaining breaks down. Diplomats are sometimes called in to mediate conflicts between nations. So-called multi-door courthouses encourage litigants to mediate before incurring the costs – and risks – of going to trial. … Read More
Download the FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Mediation Secrets for Better Business Negotiations: Top Techniques from Mediation Training Experts, and you will discover mediation techniques for selecting the right mediator, understand the mediation process and learn how to engage the mediator to ensure a good outcome.
What is the Mediation Process?
As compared with other forms of dispute resolution, the mediation process can have an informal, improvisational feel. But mediation often leads to resolution.
Worldwide, mediation has become a common means of resolving conflict, ranging from divorce to workplace disputes to broken contracts. That’s in part because of what happens in the mediation process: an impartial third party works to try to help disputants find common ground and end their impasse.
In the type of voluntary mediation process that’s common in the business world, the two sides choose their mediator jointly, they have ultimate responsibility for reaching a mutually beneficial agreement, and they may walk away from the process at any time.
The mediation process typically begins with an outline of the session and goals, ground rules, and an opportunity for each side to prevent its view of the dispute without interruption.
Because disputing sides often have difficulty listening to each other, mediators act like translators, repeating back what they have heard and asking for clarification when necessary. If parties reach an impasse, mediators diagnose the obstacles that lie in their path and work to get the discussion back on track.
Depending on the complexity and importance of the matters in dispute, the mediation process can take several hours, days, months, or even longer to reach an agreement. Sometimes the resolution is truly “win-win.” At other times, one side is thrilled with the deal, and the other considers it barely acceptable.
Keep in mind that your interests and those of the mediator may not be identical. The mediator’s sole interest is to help the parties achieve a settlement. This is also your interest, of course—but only if the settlement is preferable to your no-settlement alternatives.
To learn more about the mediation process, download your complimentary copy of Mediation Secrets for Better Business Negotiations: Top Techniques from Mediation Training Experts.
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Course Dates: June 7-11, 2021 In this popular program, you will acquire the practical skills and techniques for facilitating negotiations between disputing parties. From family and employment matters to public policy and business disagreements, you will discover effective ways to settle differences and mediate disputes across a variety of contexts. This program will provide you with core … Read More
In this Special Report, the experts and editors from Harvard’s Program on Negotiation offer a sampling of advice from past issues of Negotiation to help you learn the techniques you need to resolve your disputes through mediation. You will learn to select the right dispute-resolution process, choose a mediator with appropriate expertise, learn the steps your … Read More
How does mediation work in a lawsuit? What benefits can mediation offer businesses that deal with multiple contractual agreements, some of which may end in disputes? These questions were answered by Harvard Law School Associate Professor and negotiation expert Dan Greiner in an “Ask the Negotiation Coach” segment from our Negotiation Briefings newsletter. … Read More
When parties find themselves involved in a serious conflict, they often try to avoid the expense and hassle of litigation by turning to one of the two most common alternative dispute resolution processes: mediation or arbitration. Disputants who are concerned about these drawbacks might want to consider a hybrid mediation-arbitration approach called med-arb. … Read More
Worldwide, mediation has become a common means of resolving conflict, ranging from divorce to workplace disputes to broken contracts. Yet mediation remains an underused tool for resolving disputes in U.S. … Read More
Many negotiation researchers debating the merits of mediation vs arbitration wonder why alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are not more popular than they currently are. … Read More
Organizations have long recognized the value of hiring professional mediators to help resolve disputes. More and more, managers have begun to also see value in securing mediation training for themselves and their employees. Although there are times when the services of an unbiased, professional mediator are needed, there may also be instances in which employees … Read More
How does the presence of lawyers affect the mediation process and mediations in general? You might guess that when one or both sides bring an attorney to a mediation, the process would become more contentious and adversarial, with impasse more likely, than if the parties worked solely with a mediator. … Read More
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. … Read More
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 … Read More
While most negotiation research aims to sharpen individual managers’ skills, there is growing scholarly and professional interest in an organizational approach to negotiation.A systemic perspective evaluates the training, authority, procedures, and resources that manager need to improve their companies’ “return on negotiation,” as consultant Danny Ertel puts it. Looking at negotiations broadly reveals important design … Read More
Negotiations have reached an impasse, but both sides agree on one thing: you need help resolving the dispute. You engage a neutral mediator to do just that. Rather than acting as a judge who decides who “wins” or “loses,” a third-party mediator assists parties in reaching an agreement. … Read More
The process of dissolving a partnership can be wrenching, whether the split is undertaken by a couple, business partners, or an organization. But as many real-life examples of conflict resolution show, there are proven ways to calm the turmoil that often accompanies partnership dissolutions and set parties up for a hopeful future. Among conflict resolution … Read More
A contract dispute in the spring of 2019 between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and its musicians led to a disruptive seven-week strike, the longest in the venerable orchestra’s 128-year history. An unexpected intervention by Chicago’s departing mayor drew the dispute to a harmonious finale—and illustrates the role of the mediation process in conflict resolution. Negotiations … Read More
Many people are working from home these days, but that doesn’t mean disputes between employees have evaporated. In fact, the inability to hash things out in person might exacerbate long-simmering conflicts and leave people feeling even more alienated from one another. The stress we’re all facing from the threat of COVID-19 and disruptions to daily … Read More
Laptops, smartphones, databases, and project-management software have become common tools of the negotiation trade. Meanwhile, even as online dispute resolution has risen in popularity, the traditional practice of inperson mediation remains a largely technology-free zone, with smartphones often turned off and tucked away. “The field of mediation has proved surprisingly resistant to technological influence, an island … Read More
A 62-year-old salesman believes he has convincing evidence that his boss passed him over for a promotion because of his age. What options does he have? He could let the matter drop and perhaps look for another job. He could file an employment-discrimination lawsuit. Or, if his company offers mediation services, he could have the … Read More
When their employees get into disagreements with one another, managers have various ways of coping. For example, they can try to mediate the dispute themselves; they can make use of in-house procedures and systems set up for managing disputes, if they exist; or they can refer the case to a professional mediator. Increasingly, employers are … Read More
When partners are negotiating a new business deal, overconfidence can lead them to overlook the possibility that the business will fail or otherwise struggle. Wise negotiators envision not only the best-case scenario, but the worst-case scenario, and prepare for it before signing on the dotted line. … Read More
How does mediation work in a lawsuit? For those new to mediation, we advise you being by getting a list of mediators from a reputable provider agency. You can find these agencies by searching under dispute resolution or by inquiring with your organization’s legal department. … Read More
Learn how mediation techniques could have informed Apple’s negotiation strategies when it discovered discrepancies in working conditions among its supplier factories in China. … 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 More
As businesses increasingly branch out globally, they also face the possibility of broken contracts and strained relationships. Mediation can be an effective means of resolving disputes and getting business partners back on track, but do intercultural differences complicate the process? If so, how can disputants and mediators adjust? Elizabeth D. Salmon of the University of Maryland … Read More
What are the essential skills a negotiator needs to resolve conflicts abroad? How do international conflicts differ from domestic conflicts? What issues specific to bargaining across borders emerges in intercultural negotiations? In this article we explore ways in which negotiators can develop bargaining skills to overcome any barriers to communication they may encounter in negotiations … Read More
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
Back in 2000, James Brown, the legendary “Godfather of Soul,” signed a will leaving most of his estate—valued up to $100 million—to provide scholarships to needy children. In an audio tape, the musician explained that he hoped to cement his legacy with these good deeds. In the will, Brown also set aside scholarship funds for … Read More
About 15 months after becoming the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, Detroit is on track to begin rebuilding and growing stronger. On November 7, a federal judge approved a plan aimed at ridding the city of its $7 billion in debt and investing about $1.7 billion in city services, the New York Times … Read More
How does the presence of lawyers affect the process of mediation? You might guess that when one or both sides bring an attorney to a mediation, the process would become more contentious and adversarial, with impasse more likely, than if the parties worked solely with a mediator. That conventional wisdom is contradicted by new research … Read More
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 More
Adapted from “Framing a Negotiation to Foster Cooperation,” first published in the Negotiation newsletter. Sometimes in negotiation, against all apparent odds, peace breaks out. Union leaders and management reach a last-minute agreement that averts a work stoppage. Litigants settle their differences as they mount the courthouse steps. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief and moves on. But … Read More
As the use of mediation continues to grow, researchers continue to examine what makes mediators effective and what the impact of mediation is on parties in dispute. Four articles in the July 2009 issue of Negotiation Journal provide an in-depth view of mediation effectiveness, with some interesting findings. In the first article, Stephen Goldberg, Margaret Shaw, … Read More