What is Mediation?
Worldwide, mediation has become a common means of resolving conflict, ranging from divorce to workplace disputes to broken contracts.
When negotiators can’t come to an agreement but want to avoid an expensive, time-consuming, and potentially rancorous lawsuit, mediation is often their most logical choice. Mediation can help resolve a wide range of disputes. A divorcing couple that can’t reach agreement on child custody might try mediation. So might siblings who disagree about issues related to an inheritance, or companies that are fighting over a failed venture. Sometimes courts require litigants to engage in court-sponsored mediation with the goal of heading off a trial.
In mediation, a trained mediator assists disputants in working together to craft a resolution that each side values. Mediators encourage parties to share information about their positions and explore innovative means of coming together.
Using mediation skills as a leader rather than imposing a decision, a trained mediator applies communication skills, objectivity, and creativity to help disputants reach their own voluntary solution to the conflict. Indeed, one of the tenets of mediation practice is to work subtly so that parties leave feeling as if they have reached accord largely on their own, a strategy that is meant to deepen their commitment to honor the agreement.
In short, mediation is a negotiation between two or more parties facilitated by an agreed-upon third party. Skilled third-party mediators can lower the emotional temperature in a negotiation, foster more effective communication, help uncover less obvious interests, offer face-saving possibilities for movement, and suggest solutions that the parties might have overlooked.
Find out more about mediation by downloading our complimentary special report, Mediation Secrets for Better Business Negotiations: Top Techniques from Mediation Training Experts. Discover how to choose the right mediator, understand the mediation process, and learn how to engage a mediator to ensure a good outcome.
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