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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