Mediation at the most basic core is facilitated dialogue between parties in conflict. The Mediator is third party neutral who is trained in the process of facilitated dialogue. The Mediator does not take sides, give advise nor is part of the outcome. The Mediator owns the process of Mediation but the parties own the outcome.
Mediation is a great way to resolve disputes and typically takes less time and money than the litigation process. Disputes where all parties concerned are willing to give the process a good faith effort, are prime candidates for Mediation.
Most disputes can be mediated. However, there are some exceptions.
- Disputes involving violent or criminal matters are not good candidates for mediation
- Disputes wishing to establish a legal precedent
Every dispute is different, thus every mediation is different. A skilled mediator will know how to tailor the mediation to the dispute and the parties involved. However, to answer your question, the mediation process follows a general line of progression.
- Pre-Mediation Conversation – Before the mediation the mediator may have a preliminary telephone conversation with the parties to work out the logistics of the mediation.
- Introduction – Depending on the type of conflict, the mediation may be a single session or multiple sessions, but is always structured to make the parties as comfortable as possible.
- Welcome – The room or rooms are setup for the mediation. This usually includes water/coffee/tea, snacks, tissues, paper & pencils/pens. The table is normally rectangle with the mediation at the head of the table and the parties on each side. The mediator will enter the room after the parties are in the room and begin the Introduction.
- Mediation Process – The mediator will start the mediation with the purpose and role of mediation. The mediator will go over the steps outlined here, explaining each of the mediation steps. In addition to explaining the flow of the mediation, the mediator will cover the rules of engagement or ground rules, confidentiality, note taking and private meetings; called a caucus. The opening should always include everyone’s understanding of the process, the Agreement To Mediate and the importance of Confidentiality.
- Initial Statements – Once everyone understands the process and accepts the mediator, the next step is the initial statements. The mediator will ask each party in turn to talk about the dispute as they see it and what they hope to gain from mediation. This dialogue is between the party talking and the mediator. The dialogue is uninterrupted as each party will have a turn at this part of the mediation process. This also gives the other party a chance to listen as they may hear something they have not heard before about the dispute.
- Two-Way Exchange – After all parties have shared their story, the Mediator will have the parties turn to each other and start a dialogue. This is your chance to ask questions and clarify misunderstandings you heard from the other parties during their initial statement.
- Problem Identification – Through the dialogue, the mediator and the parties will start to identify the key issues.
- Generating Options – The mediator will help to keep track of the various options tied to each issue. The mediator will never impose an idea or take sides on an option. They will continue to help move the dialogue and any possible options in a forward and productive manner.
- Caucus – The parties or the mediator can use a private meeting at any time during the Two-Way Exchange, Problem Identification and Generating Options stages of the mediation. Since the mediator is neutral, they will provide equal time in caucus for each party. Respecting the confidentiality of the mediation, the mediator will not discuss the the substance of either caucus with the other party.
- Agreement – If the parties come to a resolution of some or all of the disputes, they will be memorialized in a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). The mediator will help the parties by writing the MSA. The mediator’s job is to make sure the the agreement is specific and clear and covers all the items agreed upon by the parties. This may include any deadlines for a resolution and any outcomes if the resolution is completed by the deadline. Once complete and acceptable by all parties, the parties will sign the MSA and each receive a signed copy.
- Closure – Once an MSA is complete, if an agreement is reached or if no agreement has been reached and any party decides they can not continue with the mediation, the mediator will close the mediation and all parties are free to leave.
All conversations and materials produced during the mediation session(s) are confidential. The parties review and sign a Mediation Confidentiality Agreement as part of the opening stage of the mediation. The agreement outlines that communications and documents shared in the mediation will not be disclosed to anyone who is not party to the mediation. It also states the communications and documents are exempt from being used in discovery, cross examination or at trial or any other way.
Our mission is to provide a comprehensive and reliable third party neutral mediation experience; empowering individuals and parties to take control of the circumstances and resolve their conflict.