What is Mediation and How does it Work
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary method of dispute resolution which has proven extremely successful in resolving a wide variety of disputes. It is confidential and quick, and can be implemented at very low cost. A high percentage of disputes can be resolved through mediation, and agreements are generally reached after a single session.
In mediation, parties settle their own disputes with the assistance of a mediator who has been trained in a variety of resolution techniques, using effective communication, exploration of options, creative problem-solving, and impasse resolution. Mediation is a voluntary process that aims to reach a workable solution for all parties. Trained mediators facilitate this highly constructive process where participants usually meet face to face to discuss their concerns.
The Role of the Mediator
Mediators act as objective third parties. They do not take sides or impose solutions. Our mediators, in most cases, use a facilitative approach, modeling effective communication skills with the goal of empowering both parties and assisting them to recognize responsibility and accountability.
The mediator is a third party neutral whose main task is to:
- Facilitate negotiations between two or more disputants
- Model and encourage effective communication skills between the parties
- Assist them to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement
- Guide the process (not the substance) and ensure that negotiations take place in a fair and balanced manner
- Ensure that each person is given an equal opportunity to be heard and to respond to what is said by the other thus ensuring full exploration of the underlying interests of all parties
How Does it Work?
A mediation session normally begins with the mediator addressing the parties, to explain and outline the process and have the parties sign an Agreement to Mediate. Each party will be invited to make a brief statement summarizing their case. With the assistance of the mediator the parties will then work toward a resolution. As is often the case the mediator may begin a series of private, confidential meetings with the parties.
These meetings are known as “caucuses” and the mediator works with the parties to analyze the case, discuss issues that a party may wish to keep confidential, and generate some settlement options. Discussions do not simply revolve around legal issues, but also explore any business or personal interests that may need to be considered to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
Not every case settles in mediation. In some cases the mediator, with the consent of the parties, may be able to follow-up on the telephone and facilitate closure. In other cases, the parties may simply need time to re-evaluate their cases in view of the perspective gained in the mediation and will arrive at a settlement on their own shortly after the session.