What is Mediation and How Does Mediation Work? Role of the Mediator, Principles of Mediation, and the Mediation Process
Conflict exists in all of our lives. Many conflicts are resolved. Others are ignored and left to lie. Some disputes, however, require resolution and outside assistance because those in conflict have been unable to negotiate agreement on their own.
What is Mediation?
Mediation offers such assistance while keeping the decision-making in the hands of those experiencing the conflict. As a mediator, I function as a neutral facilitator of the conversation between two or more people in conflict. Mediation is designed to help foster open and effective communication, improve understanding of everyone’s perspective, and generate solutions that can work for everyone involved. In essence, the goal is to create as much of a win-win situation as possible.
One important aspect of mediation is that mediators are trained to honor five core principles.
Principles of Mediation
Mediation is confidential. Everything discussed in mediation will be kept private. As the mediator, I cannot be subpoenaed or called to testify on behalf of mediation clients. I believe confidentiality creates a safe place that fosters open dialogue. The open dialogue ultimately leads to better understanding of the issues and interests of everyone involved, and more creative and flexible solutions.
Mediators should never take sides. As a mediator, it is important to me that I am working on behalf of all the parties involved. Only with neutrality am I able to reframe issues and facilitate more effective communication. Mediator neutrality allows those involved to make their own decisions and preserves the mediator’s role as facilitator.
Involvement in mediation should always be the participant’s choice. Mediation is only effective if those involved have chosen to participate. Just as participants elect to engage in mediation they can also elect to withdraw from mediation at any time.
Clients are empowered to make their own decisions. Unlike litigation or arbitration, those involved make decisions that are in their own best interest, rather than having someone like an attorney or judge make important decisions on their behalf.
Clients should be well-informed about the mediation process throughout.
How Does Mediation Work?
Every one of my mediations is structured slightly different in order to best meet the unique needs of parties. Having said that, most mediation sessions are scheduled in two hour increments, although I have mediated one hour and six hour sessions as well. The frequency of sessions can be anywhere from days to months, based on client needs.
Most mediations involve joint sessions. A joint session involves meeting with all involved at the same time and in the same room. There are times when meeting privately with clients can also be helpful. Some mediation sessions involve both joint and private sessions within the same mediation meeting.
I can also create documents that the participants can use to memorialize their decisions.