Exploring Mediation Fundamentals

Part of the Success as a Mediator For Dummies Cheat Sheet

To be a master mediator, you need to master certain fundamental skills, strategies, and techniques. The following are all traits of a well-trained mediator:

  • Anchoring: An anchor is any relevant number (or idea) that enters the negotiation environment. The party who puts the first number on the table, for example, anchors the negotiation in her favor throughout the course of the negotiation.

  • Appealing to higher values: Using shared beliefs or principles to reach agreement, such as both parents’ desire to do “what’s best for the children.”

  • Asking diagnostic questions: To get the whole story, probe each party with open-ended questions that call for narrative (as opposed to yes/no) answers. These questions always begin with Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? or Tell me more about that.

  • Bracketing: The use of hypothetical offers and demands to narrow the gap that separates parties without requiring either party to commit to a number. For example, “If Party A were to increase his offer to $75,000, would you be willing to lower your demand to $100,000?”

  • Distributive bargaining: A negotiation in which the parties bargain over who gets the biggest portion of a fixed pie of benefits. Even if you’re facilitating an interest-based negotiation, eventually the enlarged pie of benefits must be distributed among the parties.

  • Forming contingent agreements: Adding “If . . . then . . .” language to a contract to alleviate a party’s concern over a future event that may undermine the party’s interests.

  • Framing: Change the parties’ perspective to something more positive. Mediators often reframe the parties’ dispute from an adversarial contest to a problem-solving exercise and from the identification of who’s right to the search for solutions that make everyone happy.

  • Interest-based negotiation: A negotiation in which the parties identify each other’s interests (needs, desires, preferences, priorities, fears, and appetite for risk) and then seek to reach an agreement that serves as many of those interests as possible.

  • Logrolling: Giving something that’s low-cost for one party but high-value to the other party in exchange for something that’s high-value to the first party but low-cost for the second party.

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Success as a Mediator For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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