Conflict is inevitable. We frequently find ourselves in disagreement with colleagues, family members, neighbors or friends. While we don't always have control over the issues in a dispute, we do have some control over what we do about those issues.
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process where two or more parties in dispute negotiate their own agreement with the help of an impartial mediator.
Mediation is a constructive way to work collaboratively with others to resolve your conflict and get on with your life.
- Voluntary. Parties only come to the table if they want to; they are also free to leave if the process is not working for them, for whatever reason.
- Confidential. Unless they have all agreed before hand, nothing said inside the room is discussed outside of the room by either the mediator or the parties.
- Their own agreement. The outcome of the mediation is determined by the parties, not by the mediator. They decide how it will all turn out.
- Impartial. Mediators don't determine right or wrong. They have no stake in any particular outcome. They are there to facilitate the discovery of a resolution, not to dictate it.
Mediation is suitable for many kinds of disputes. Some examples include:
- Couples wishing to separate or divorce
- Husbands and wives wishing to stay together
- Business partners differing on strategic direction
- Boards, members and staff of NFP's
- Congregations and their clergy or governing bodies
- Managers and employees with leadership or performance issues
- Co-workers with discrimination complaints
- Multiple heirs to an estate disputing terms of a will
- Siblings dealing with aging parental care
Participants benefit from mediation in many ways:
- Preserve relationships. When individuals work cooperatively with each other to resolve a dispute, the relationship frequently improves; when they work against each other to resolve a dispute, the relationship frequently deteriorates. In divorce, where children are involved, in business where staff must continue to work together, on boards, where volunteers have terms to serve out, building cooperative problem solving skills through mediation has significant long term relationship benefits.
- Save money. Because only one professional is involved in the actual negotiation process, and both parties generally share the cost of that professional, mediation is relatively inexpensive.
- Save time. Both parties sit down with a single professional and work together to resolve their differences. There is no waiting for attorneys to coordinate schedules, no time wasted while multiple parties communicate with one another. It is all done at the table in the room with the mediator.
- Improve communication skills. A successful mediation may leave the parties not only with resolution, but also with a set of tools for more effective communication in the future.
- Realize high compliance. Because parties agree to nothing they can't live with, compliance with the terms of an agreement is exceptionally high.
The mediator begins by providing a general overview of what the process entails, establishing at the outset that his or her role is to facilitate, not dictate.
The parties then discuss what brought them to the table, presenting the facts, as they see them. The mediator encourages parties to listen respectfully to each other's perspectives. People bring different experiences to the table and in good faith, they hear and interpret things differently. One of the keys to resolution is fully understanding points of view.
Throughout the process, the mediator helps the parties focus on common goals and clarify individual interests.
Because there are always multiple solutions to a problem, the mediator encourages the parties to identify and examine several possible options for resolution. Ultimately they choose what they view as the most appropriate.
An agreement is then drafted, reviewed by attorneys, if appropriate, and finally signed by the parties.