Tips for a Successful Mediation

August 30th, 2010 - G Kerr, JD

Choosing to mediate your dispute, whether it is a divorce, business dispute, personal injury, or other matter, is a wise decision in swiftly and fairly bringing your dispute to a resolution.  Keep in mind that your behavior throughout the process will have an effect on the outcome.  Here are some thoughts to keep in mind for a successful mediation.

Keep your emotions in check:  Although a dispute may cause your blood to boil, choosing mediation demonstrates your willingness to come to the table to work with the other party to resolve your differences.  It may be incredibly difficult to do so, but try to keep in mind the other side’s position.  While you may disagree wholeheartedly with their feelings, try not to dismiss them out of hand, but rather attempt to level-headedly recognize at least how they may feel their points are valid.  Also, keep in mint that the CFR Certified Mediator is there to act as a wholly neutral party; they will help everyone in the room get together in moving toward a solution. CFR’s Conflict Coaching can also assist participants address the emotion involved in the conflict.

The Facts – Start with them, and stay with them:  Founding Father, and the second President of the United States, John Adams was fond of saying “facts are stubborn things”.  What Adams is trying to tell us is that no matter how we wish to view something, the facts are not going to change.  When sitting down to mediate, start with the facts.  In going over what both sides know to be true, you may find your dispute is not a deep as either side originally imagined.  Again, the CFR Certified Mediator can help you in fleshing out the facts and painting a clear picture of the situation.  Once this is done, moving toward resolution may be simpler than either side imagined.

Attempt to maintain neutral language:  Using pejorative language or placing blame with your word choice can derail a mediation before it even leaves the station.  Again, this goes hand-in-hand with keeping your emotions in check.  It might be hard, especially in a divorce mediation setting, to not point the finger at the other party, but doing so just causes people to put on the brakes.  This is completely counter-intuitive to the goal of mediation, which is to bring the parties together to common ground, and a mutually agreeable resolution.

These tips are just some simple thoughts to keep in mind.  They evoke the adage often seen on motivational posters, “attitude is everything”.  While having a positive attitude will not guarantee your absolute ideal mediation outcome; it will help set the proper tone for a resolution all parties can be happy about.

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