Comprehensive guide on mediation - For Dummies (Features)

Mediation for Dummies

Comprehensive mediation guide – Mediation is a process through which two or more parties come to an agreeable resolution via a third person’s help. If you’re new to this term and don’t know how to go about it this article will help you figure out.

In this article first we will talk about mediation and mediation features, then we will describe why choose mediation over any other arbitration processes; next we will talk about the role of the mediator; then we will etch out the process by following which you can successfully go through mediation and reach an agreeable solution; and finally we will discuss mediation uses in various mediation forms.

Let’s begin with what mediation is and the features.

Mediation & its characteristics

Mediation is a simple process where two or more parties take the help of a third person voluntarily to find an agreeable solution among them.

But mediation definition is not all. You need to delve deep to understand it better. Look at its features to get a broad picture of what it actually is.

  • Voluntary: Unlike any other negotiation techniques, there’s no one who will coerce or force either parties to be part of this process to reach a common solution. This is unique because it definitely takes help from a third party but both parties become willing participants of this process. So, things become much easier.
  • Empathy: In case of mediation, the primary concern is empathy for each other instead of having rift between parties. Even if in the beginning of the mediation process, there may be little or no empathy; but once the mediator takes things in his/her own hands, things improve. And instead of fighting over their concerns, each party tries to understand each other and puts effort to come to a mutual solution.
  • Facilitation: Most of the negotiation processes involve command or coercion. But in case of mediation, it’s not so. Mediator doesn’t command or direct the parties to a solution u rather facilitates the process. It’s much smarter as due to facilitation the parties can understand each other well, comes together and instead of fighting against each other, they work together to find a solution. So it can be said that it is much smarter approach than any other mediation negotiation techniques.
  • Solves issues of great magnitude: As mediation is a process where voluntary participation is encouraged and facilitation is practiced, it can solve any issues of great magnitude without any hazards. When two or more parties are not able to decide what to do and at the same time don’t want to compromise their privacy, they choose mediation process. They pick a mediator who has proper mediation skills, mediation training and mediation experience and ask to mediate the process for a fee. The mediation process thus becomes easier and also doesn’t need mediation court to interfere among the diverse interests of parties.

Why choose mediation over any other arbitration processes?

There are many reasons why the parties choose mediation over any other negotiation techniques. Have a close look at below pointers to get an idea about why it is so popular and why you should choose mediation if you feel the need to reach to a mediation resolution.

  • Cost effective: Even when we may say that cost doesn’t matter, only solution matters; cost is the sole differentiator of any business or personal happiness. If a business wants to increase profits its emphasis should always be on cost reduction. In case of personal life, no one would like to spend a lot of money to find a solution which is not solvable among parties. Then what’s the alternative? Simply you should go for mediation. Yes, in this you need to pay a fee to the professional mediator but if you combine all the costs you need to bear in other negotiation processes, then without any doubt, mediation is the most cost effective way to ensure a desired solution for each party. Imagine going to the court, paying the mediation fees of advocates for each mediation session and other ancillary charges for things to move on and combine the expenses and compare with the cost of the mediation. You would understand the significant difference in cost.
  • Confidentiality: How would you feel when your private affairs are discussed in court or elsewhere and you are a silent audience in the crowd? You won’t like it. But what’s the solution? Mediation is the solution. It would keep your confidentiality intact and only people who would know about the issue will be the parties involved in the resolution process and a only a mediator who will facilitate the whole thing. Which is better? If you would like to have confidentiality, then you must pick mediation or arbitration processes.
  • Control: In the courtroom or elsewhere, the control of the parties over the agreement or solution is bleak. The judges, advocates or significant others will decide as representatives of parties, but there is no or much lesser control. Whereas in mediation, the parties have direct control over the things they want to discuss and can decide which is the right or empathetic way of looking at it. It’s not judging the capability of the judges or the advocates, but it’s all about taking things on your own hands instead of allowing others to dictate terms. So, if you want more control, pick mediation.
  • Compliance: If you have seen any court case you would see that most of the time the compliance is very low, people maintain the law of order because they have to. But in case of mediation, the mediator facilitates and the parties mutually and empathetically decide on an agreeable solution. Thus the chances of compliance are much higher. At the outset we mentioned that the process of mediation is voluntary. That means the parties want to come together for an agreeable solution and usually they come to decide upon what will be the ideal solution for both/all of them after taking the help of a mediator. So compliance is more and complaints are less.
  • Mutuality: In mediation, parties not only come voluntarily to sit for the solution they work mutually to reach to the solution. The difference between other negotiation processes and mediation is its mutual and instead of working against each other they work toward a common goal. For example, take an organization and its people. They work as a team to come to an agreeable solution which is mutually beneficial both for the people and the organization. Similar approach is taken here. Two or more parties work together for achieving a common goal and not against each other.
  • Support: In mediation, you get direct support from the mediator. S/he is appointed directly to facilitate. And with his/her professional skills, mediation techniques and mediation tactics s/he helps solve the problem. S/he offers various mediation solutions and encourages each party to think beyond the conventions and to come up with alternative ideas which help each other. Imagine it as a brainstorming sessions where the employees are asked to find out a solution for a tough problem and the president of the company helps them, support them and encourage them to find out the best ones for an agreeable and sustainable solution. In mediation, each party gets the same support from the mediator and thus finding a mutually beneficial solution becomes much easier.


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Role of the Mediator


The role of the mediator cannot be under emphasized. It’s a huge role and a great responsibility. Once the mediator is appointed and the mediation begins s/he does the following things.

  • Introducer: The mediator introduces the process and helps the issues get clear first to the parties involved in the mediation. Then s/he tells his/her role as a facilitator.
  • Facilitator: The primary responsibility of the mediator is to facilitate the process. The purpose of facilitation is to create empathy for each other, to remind again and again why the parties have come together and to help produce new, ‘out of the box’ ideas.
  • Encourager: The mediator also plays the role of encourager and acts as the biggest support each party needs during the mediation process.
  • Unbiased negotiator: The mediator needs to be honest, ethical and strong in character. If not s/he can be biased and can agree to a particular party’s trick. S/he needs to be neutral and listens to everyone and with everyone’s voluntary support decides upon the final conclusion.
  • Manager: Finally, a mediator has to act as a manager. S/he needs to manage all of the parties in such a way that there is less chaos and ambiguity and more clarity and discussion toward desired outcome.

Process of Mediation

It’s an easy process but depending on the magnitude of the issue it takes time to resolve. Let’s look at each part of the process in actual sequence.

  • Start: All the parties and the mediator meet at a place where the mediation would be done and then the whole process begins. The mediator introduces each party and asks them to begin.
  • Opening by the parties: Once the parties get the signal from the mediator, they start the proceedings. The mediator asks the parties to present the issues first and then the discussion carries on.
  • Summary and agenda: After introduction, the mediator asks the parties to present a summary and agenda of what they will discuss about. It should be short, precise and only talk about issues that are relevant. Ambiguity and other things which are unrelated to the issue should be avoided.
  • Problems, needs and interests analysis: After briefly describing the agenda and the summary of issues, it’s time to go deep. At this stage of mediation, the mediator detects the problems, finds out the needs of each party for which they’ve voluntarily come together and analyse the importance of the interest for each party. The parties are also involved in the process. Once this is done the most important step of the process arises.
  • “Caucus” sessions: This is the most important part of the whole mediation process because each party gets the opportunity to discuss their issues privately. It’s defined as ‘caucus’ sessions. After this part only the alternative solutions are generated.
  • Options generation: After the joint private sessions, it’s time to solve the problem. The best way to solve a problem is to gather ideas which may or may not be a good fit. But at this stage of mediation, the mediator facilitates to get new ideas from parties so that there can be a negotiation for reaching a desired solution without hurting the interest of each party.
  • Assisted negotiation: Once the ideas are gather, it’s time for parties to negotiate on the options. Of course, the mediator will be involved in the process. And s/he will make sure that each party talks sense and doesn’t negotiate on the basis of unrelated events or circumstances.
  • Settlement and agreement: Once the negotiation is done, it’s time to close the process of mediation. At this part the best alternative is found and agreed upon and then then an official agreement is signed.

Uses of mediation

Mediation can be used in all facets of negotiations. In this last section, we will discuss about the types and uses of mediation and where it can be used.

  • Business to Business: It’s a common theme of most of the negotiation and each party chooses mediation process over any other negotiation techniques as they have more control in mediation.
  • Business to Customers: If customers are not satisfied with the dealings of the business or the vice versa then they opt for mediation.
  • Business to Employees: Always all organizations don’t think about well-being of employees or vice versa. Then there is only one option is left and that is to go for mediation.
  • Personal affairs: Even in all personal affairs where agreement needs to be mutual, mediation is chosen as a way to deal with the differences between parties.

This is a comprehensive mediation guide. If you read this well, the fundamentals of mediation would be clear. But the best way to understand mediation is always to be part of it. If you get an opportunity use this process and you would get to know how mediation works.

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