Have you ever been out with friends, and trying to decide where to go for dinner, but no one will agree? You ask a few questions, you suggest a compromise and guess what? You’ve just successfully mediated a dispute.
Mediation sounds like such a ‘legal’ term, but it’s not just something that is used around the courthouse. In an economy such as we have today, disputes are more common, tempers flare, and small issues loom much larger and darker. Mediation tones things down in just about any environment. Rival teachers in a school district, opposing groups in your church, neighbors fighting neighbors, and disputes in your workplace are all situations that can be mediated successfully. Resolution of disputes can make our lives less stressful and more enjoyable by giving us more time to spend on the things that really matter – like football – but that’s for another article.
The process of mediation is simplistic and complex at the same time. If you can remember the letter ‘C’, you can grasp the core of mediation. All mediations, by definition, require Compromise. Each side has to give something up in order to come to an agreement.
Mediations are always Confidential. The discussions and negotiations in mediations must remain between the participants in the mediation and cannot be used outside the mediation session. This is to encourage participants to be frank in their deliberations, without the fear that something will be used against them at a later time.
Mediations often involve parties separating into Caucuses, which are sessions where each side can discuss its concerns with the mediator in private.
Each side must feel Comfortable with the process in order for it to work. Physically comfortable so there are no distractions and psychologically comfortable so that one party does not feel intimidated by the other.
Mediations can be Complex because of complicated legal issues or long and involved emotional entanglements. Complexity is dealt with by starting with the parts and rearranging them differently, but in ways both sides can accept.
Finally, a good mediation has a Conclusion. Most mediators consider a mediation successful if both sides leave the session a little unhappy. That usually means that they both gave something up, but ended with an agreement they can live with. Many people come to mediations angry and determined not to settle for anything less than everything, channeling Ivana Trump. Those same people often leave with the disputed issues settled and hugging the mediator. No, REALLY. It happens!
Brenda C. Garretson, Esq. is an attorney with the firm of Rhodes, Tucker & Garretson. She may be reached at P.O. Box 887, Marco Island, FL 34146
Tel: (239) 394-5151 email@example.com.