What is Mediation?
Mediation is any process for resolving
disputes, in which an impartial third party helps the disputing parties
reach a voluntary, negotiated agreement that both parties are willing
to accept. The work of mediation is to produce the best possible
outcome for both parties and not to determine issues of right and
What Is the Goal of Mediation?
The goal of mediation is to
re-establish communication between parties and to give them an opportunity
to resolve their dispute directly.
How Does Mediation Help?
Mediation creates an
opportunity for parties to express issues and clear misunderstandings.
Mediation restores communication between the parties in dispute and
enables them to focus on problem solving. Mediation also teaches
people the skills they need to negotiate solutions to future problems
and helps them gain confidence in handling conflicts.
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation is informal,
private, and confidential. Parties work with a mediator to develop
an agreement for resolving their dispute. The mediator facilitates
the process by helping the parties to identify and articulate their
interests and to understand each other's perspectives. The mediator
assists the parties in framing and clarifying the issues in dispute,
exploring options, and developing an agreement. The solution in a
mediated dispute is not imposed by the mediator. The solution is
generated by the parties and is one that both parties are willing
to accept and abide by. In mediation, it is understood that the agreement
is binding on the individuals who develop it. Where appropriate,
the mediator will outline the procedures and possible sanctions for
breach of the agreement.
How Does Mediation Differ from Arbitration?
Arbitration is a formal
process in which each party presents his or her case to the arbitrator.
The parties do not communicate directly with each other and do not
participate in the decision-making process. The resolution of the
dispute is decided and imposed by the arbitrator. Because each side
is competing to gain an advantage, the process is adversarial and
can further damage relationships. In contrast, parties in mediation
reach a mutually agreed-upon solution, which encourages compromise
What Are the Active Assumptions Underlying the Mediation Process?
- Every person is worthy of dignity and respect.
- Every person is capable of change.
- People can make decisions about their own lives.
- Each person can speak to his or her own concerns.
- People will accept and honor choices and decisions they make, themselves.
- Mediators have no conflict of interest or personal stake in the outcome of the dispute.