In business disputes and interpersonal conflicts, having a judge decide matters in a court of law ought to be a measure of last resort. Of course, some disputes are so complex, or differing views run so deep, that the disagreeing parties cannot simply talk their way into an agreement. So, the least invasive next step would be to hire a mediator. The process of mediation is a way for individuals or businesses to get the help of a neutral third party, the mediator, in resolving their conflict by guiding them to a Win-Win solution. In mediation, therefore, no one wins at the expense of the other’s loss; the parties simply follow mediation steps until they reach a solution that is acceptable to both sides.
How Does the Process of Mediation Start?
The process of mediation begins when parties in a dispute, such as co-workers having an interpersonal conflict or entrepreneurs who want to dissolve their business partnership, realize that they cannot reach an agreement on their own. They agree to appoint a mediator to help them negotiate. The mediator must be unbiased, but he or she usually has enough knowledge of the subject matter to recognize potential solutions. The mediation rules state that the mediator cannot make a legally binding decision about how to resolve the dispute. The mediator’s job is simply to facilitate a problem-solving, interest-based negotiation of sorts.
What Happens During the Mediation Process?
In the early stages of mediation, the mediator meets with each party individually. The purpose of these sessions is to help the mediator understand each person’s perspective on the dispute. Talking to the parties separately is helpful because parties are often so wrapped up with the conflict that they cannot talk about it in each other’s presence without getting angry, defensive, and disruptive. Therefore private conversations first are key to getting the mediator up-to speed on each party’s perspective.
After the initial sessions, depending on the nature of the conflict and the depth of emotional attachments, the mediator will either facilitate a negotiation with each party separately, or bring the parties together for a mediation. In the former case, the mediator will present one party’s requests to the other, and he or she may offer potential solution based on previous experience and knowledge. The second party may present a counter-offer for the mediator to bring to the first party. This series of proposals and counter-offers continues until the parties are close to reaching an agreement.
In the latter case, or sometimes after an agreement has been virtually reached, the process of mediation typically concludes with both parties and the mediator all meeting together to agree to a settlement or solution, verbally or in writing. More than one session involving both parties and the mediator might be necessary before they can reach a final settlement. Sometimes the parties reach an impasse, meaning that they become sure an agreement is unreachable for the time being. When that happens, they often resort to other methods of conflict resolution, from arbitration to traditional adjudication in a court of law.
What Is the Role of Mediation in Conflict Resolution?
Even the best communication and negotiation skills cannot resolve all personal and business conflicts. Mediation is an effective alternative conflict resolution method to help resolve more serious disputes, with lower costs and typically more favorable outcomes than traditional adjudication. In mediation, no one wins or loses, and you don’t end up with a compromise that simply temporarily postpones a bigger conflict.
Mediation, a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, is one of the conflict resolution services Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions offers. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions about the process of mediation for personal, business, and community-based conflicts today.