For disputing parties, mediation can be an effective alternative to traditional litigation. In mediation, a neutral third party, called a mediator, facilitates negotiations between the parties to help them devise their own mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. Mediation is flexible, confidential, and voluntary. Mediators are specially trained to avoid taking sides and imposing their own judgment. They are also skilled at framing issues and assisting the participants to understand each other. During the process, they will often ask questions to reframe or challenge participants’ positions, and may suggest alternatives or possibilities for settlement.
Mediation is usually less expensive, quicker, and more procedurally simple than litigation. In addition, it can be more focused on the underlying circumstances and emotional aspects of your dispute, which can help you reach a solution that preserves relationships – personal, business, or family.
The mediation session generally starts with the mediator describing their role and explaining the mediation procedure. Then the person who requested the mediation will usually speak about their concerns, and each of you will have an opportunity to make a brief statement to explain your side of the story. During these opening statements, it is important to listen to your opponents and not be defensive.
Then the mediator will usually hold a joint session to discuss the issues in your dispute, and they will ask you to identify any potential solutions that might work for all of you. If the issue is complicated or has numerous parts, the mediator will likely use several methods to assist you in developing solutions, such as brainstorming sessions.