Mediation offers disputing parties a way to settle their disagreements faster than a lawsuit, for less money, on terms they get to control. That doesn’t mean mediation is always — or even usually — easy. Mediation works best when the parties put some work into it, and when they are able to get past a few common obstacles.
1. Feeling Rushed
It’s natural to want to resolve your disagreement as quickly as possible. Still, you should fight the urge to rush into or through mediation. If both parties rush into mediation without a clear understanding of their case, their driving concerns, and shared goals, it will be difficult to make any headway during mediation. Before you go into a mediation session, take some time to think through the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and to really consider what is most important to you — the problem you are hoping to solve or the interest you want to see served by a settlement.
Try not to feel the need to hurry through the mediation session itself, either. Parties often need time to share their perspectives on the case and to listen to and absorb how the other party sees things. Investing that time early in the mediation may help you craft a better solution when you start negotiating possible settlements. During those negotiations, sometimes it will feel like you’re getting nowhere, but resist the urge to declare an impasse and walk out. Before you give up, give the mediator time and space to explore options. You’d be surprised at how often there’s a way past what seemed like an impenetrable impasse.
2. Feelings of Hostility or Distrust are Present
For discussions and negotiations to be productive, the parties must approach mediation with a willingness to collaborate. You don’t have to blindly trust everything the other side says, but if one or more of the parties comes to the table harboring hostility or a deep distrust of either the process or another party, open and honest communication will be challenging. If distrust or anger are wrapped up in the dispute, the parties should make sure the mediator knows about it so they can plan accordingly. The reasons for the distrust may be something to address directly in mediation so that if the parties do reach an agreement it doesn’t get undermined by lingering doubts.
3. Key Information is Lacking or Withheld
In some cases, for mediation to work the parties need to share documents and information that help explain their positions. If you know ahead of time that you’ll need that kind of information from the other side before you’ll feel comfortable with an agreement, then it’s a good idea for the parties to exchange the information in advance. You may also discover during the mediation that you have documents that would help the other side understand your point of view — or that they have documents that would change your perspective. When that happens, you’ll need to consider whether you can exchange the documents right away and continue that day’s mediation session, or if it makes more sense to take a break and come back for a follow-up session after both sides have had time to review and process the new information.
To learn more about how mediation can help you negotiate a successful resolution in St. Paul or Minneapolis, contact Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.