Mediation is a voluntary process in which two or more parties involved in a dispute work with an impartial party, the mediator, to generate their own solutions in settling their conflict.
Unlike a judge or an arbitrator whose decisions often cause one party to win and the other party to lose, mediation is about the parties themselves finding a solution that works for them .
Mediation can be used to resolve a variety of conflicts including those related to:
• Government (municipal, state, federal)
• Energy/Environment/Natural Resources/Agriculture
• Real Estate/Land Use/Construction
• Labor Contracts
• Health Care
Mediation is a good option if:
•The parties involved are considering taking dispute to court
•The dispute has been ongoing and it is having a negative impact on the personal or professional lives of those involved
• Communication between the parties has not been effective and they have not been able to resolve the situation on their own
• There are multiple issues in dispute and the parties cannot agree how to prioritize them
• The parties want or need to preserve a relationship (working or personal) which is being affected by the conflict
• The parties involved cannot afford the time or costs involved with litigation
• The parties are having difficulty in starting negotiations, or establishing an effective negotiation procedure
• The parties want a neutral, safe and respectful environment that will allow them to hear and understand each other’s concerns and brainstorm ideas for resolution
• You want to resolve the conflict collaboratively with the other party or parties without a third-party imposing judgment
While no two conflicts are alike, the mediation process generally follows a standard format. It begins with what is known as the “intake process”. This usually involves a brief telephone interview with each party to give the mediator(s) an opportunity to begin to develop a rapport with the parties and to collect and analyze relevant information about the conflict and the factors that led to its current state.
The parties are then brought together to an initial mediation session at a mutually convenient time and neutral location (either TRC’s offices or another location agreeable to all parties). Once the parties are at the session, the mediator(s) will assist the parties to broadly define their areas of concern, obtain agreement on the issues to be discussed, and determine the sequence of issues to be discussed.
The mediator(s), with input from all parties, will establish ground rules that will provide a safe and respectful environment for the parties to discuss their concerns and interests. The mediator(s) will facilitate dialogue between the parties which will help them to (individually and collectively) explore and assess various options for resolving their dispute. The mediator(s) may meet privately (caucus) with each of the parties to better understand their interests and/or to help them weigh their options. The mediator(s) will not impose a resolution on the parties but will instead facilitate negotiations and help them to identify common ground and solutions that align to their mutual interests.
The final step of the mediation process is the development of a formal, written agreement that clearly articulates what the parties have agreed to. The final agreement may also contain other provisions that the parties agree to, such as a timeline for performance, a monitoring procedure and an enforcement and commitment mechanism.
Mediation offers people in conflict an opportunity to have a voice in determining their own outcomes. The informal process allows the parties to express their perspective on the issue and to hear those from others. The individuals decide how to resolve or not to resolve the conflict. Here are some of the benefits of mediation:
Confidential Mediation is held in a confidential, private setting that is conducive to problem-solving.
Economical Mediation is generally less expensive when contrasted to the expense of litigation or other forms of resolution.
More Timely Mediation is generally a faster way to resolve a conflict as most mediation sessions can be scheduled within 2 weeks as contrasted with long waits for court date or other formal hearings.
Mutually Satisfactory Outcomes Parties are generally more satisfied with solutions that have been mutually agreed upon, as opposed to solutions that are imposed by a third party decision-maker.
High Rate of Compliance Parties who have reached their own agreement in mediation are also generally more likely to follow through and comply with its terms than those whose resolution has been imposed by a third party decision-maker.
Comprehensive and Customized Outcomes Mediated outcomes are able to address both legal and non-legal issues. Mediated agreements often address emotional and psychological issues that are often not addressed in the legal system.
Greater Degree of Control and Predictability of Outcome Parties who negotiate their own settlements have more control over the outcome of their dispute. Gains and losses are more predictable in a mediated outcome than they would be if a case is arbitrated or adjudicated.
Personal Empowerment People who negotiate their own outcomes often feel greater satisfaction with the outcomes they personally create. Mediation negotiations can provide a forum for learning about and exercising personal power or influence.
Preservation of an Ongoing Relationship or Termination of a Relationship in a More Amicable Way Many disputes occur in the context of relationships that will continue over future years. A mediated settlement that addresses all parties’ interests can often preserve a working relationship in ways that would not be possible in a win/lose decision-making procedure. Mediation can also make the termination of a relationship more amicable.
Workable Decisions Parties who mediate their differences are able to attend to the fine details of implementation. Negotiated or mediated agreements can include specially tailored procedures for how the decisions will be carried out.
Agreements that are Better than Simple Compromises or Win/Lose Outcomes Interest-based mediated negotiations can result in outcomes that are more satisfactory to all parties than simple compromise decisions.
Decisions that Hold Up Over Time Mediated outcomes tend to hold up over time, and if a later dispute results, the parties are more likely to utilize a cooperative forum of problem-solving to resolve their differences than to pursue an adversarial approach.
The Resolution Collaborative, LLC
154 Waterman Street, Suite 8
Providence, RI 02906