Grasping the Mediation Process
Having a structure in place helps ensure that parties stay on track and progress toward a resolution for their dispute. The process isn’t always linear, but it does have several stages that go something like this:
Convene the mediation.
Contact all stakeholders and their attorneys if they have legal representation.
Introduce the participants.
Have the parties and other participants introduce themselves.
Explain confidentiality and your role as a neutral.
Assure the parties that nothing they say in mediation can be used against them in the court of law and that you will remain neutral.
Set the ground rules.
Establish guidelines for polite conversation, or help the parties establish their own.
Make an agenda.
Help the parties draw up an agenda that breaks down the issues to be resolved and the interests to be served.
Let each party tell her side of the story.
In a litigated dispute, this may be the first time the parties have had the opportunity to tell their stories.
Ask questions to clarify the issues.
After each party tells his story, ask open-ended questions to obtain more details that will illuminate or reveal unspoken party interests.
Assist the parties in coming up with possible solutions that serve each party’s interests. Your goal is to “expand the pie” so the parties have more options than money alone.
Choose or negotiate available solutions.
Using the available solutions, help the parties come to an agreement that serves as many of each party’s interests as possible.
Close and memorialize the agreement.
Assist the parties in putting the terms of their agreement in writing to make the agreement more durable.