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When is mediation most effective?
When we bring our stories of pain, suffering and fault into the present moment we find ourselves trapped in conflict.
Beliefs about right and wrong are closely tied to our identity and values. When we feel that those are threatened, we enroll allies and eventually lawyers to validate our position and weaken our opponents. Communications breakdown and become increasingly adversarial. Long standing business, personal and familial relationships become toxic. The track to the court house looms as the only way to get our interests and needs met.
What makes a mediation work?
Mediations are not all the same. One size does not fit all. It is critically important to select a mediator who understands how to design and conduct a mediation that is right for your unique circumstances.
First, the mediator acts as a facilitator of conversations between parties that empowers them to share their stories of what happened and what they made it mean. The goal of these conversations is to reach a shared understanding about what really matters and not a debate about fault and blame.
Second, the mediator observes the play of emotions in the negotiations and steers the conversation away from fault and blame. Like a hockey referee they blow the offside and help the parties manage the emotions that so often accompany a conflict. They take breaks and help the parties to re-focus and return to effective negotiations.
Third, at the appropriate time and in the right circumstances a mediator acts as an evaluator of the positions that parties or their lawyers take in the negotiation. They provide a reality check about the legal and practical attachments to the past that are the roadblocks and barriers to a resolution.
Mediation is a voluntary process. The power to intervene effectively is granted by the party’s express agreement and commitment to their process. Careful consideration from the onset of the right balance between facilitation and evaluation coupled with a clear understanding of expectations and practical logistics will greatly enhance the chances of success for your mediation.
Mediation is something that is done with the parties not to them or even for them. When conflict goes from an insurmountable task to a mere hurdle to overcome, life simply works better.
For more information about these Steps or assistance with difficult negotiations contact: