What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a structured and cost-effective process whereby an unbiased third party guides people in resolving their disputes and developing mutually acceptable agreements. The parties are active participants in discussing, negotiating and making decisions, while the mediator organizes and facilitates the process. It empowers the parties in a dispute to protect themselves by staying in control of decisions that affect their lives, without destroying relationships or intervention of the court.
Mediation is voluntary, private and confidential. While the ultimate goal of mediation is to assist parties in making decisions and creating solutions together, it often helps create a foundation for positive, respectful communication between the parties in the future. The process of mediation therefore provides numerous benefits outside of the topics being discussed and negotiated.
A mediator plays many roles during a mediation session, including those listed below. Each of these roles involves it's own set of skills.
- Organizer - the mediator helps clearly define the issues that need to be discussed, supports parties in having all the information necessary to make a decision, then organizes and prioritizes the discussions to aid progress by building understandings/agreements on each other.
- Communication Guide - the mediator coaches, guides, translates and assists parties in sharing information, understanding what is important to each other, and having productive discussions.
- Facilitator - the mediator guides discussions, the exploration of options, and the negotiation process in a way that is most likely to lead to satisfying agreements.
- Tracker/Note Taker - the mediator organizes and sets the agenda, tracks issues to be discussed, and records agreements made.
- Clarifier/Conflict Prevention - the mediator prevents future conflict between the parties by clarifying agreements made with concrete specificity, and alerts and encourages parties to discuss related issues and decisions that are likely to arise.
Any situation or agreement that is negotiated can be mediated. Commonly mediated disputes are family (divorce, parenting, adoption), workplace (employment, contract, partnership), housing (neighbor, landlord-tenant), medical, education, environmental and public policy issues.
To learn more about mediation, visit the websites of State and National Mediation Associations listed under Affiliations and Accrediations section of Stuart's resume.