Businesses are run by people, and their well-being comes down to human relationships. When owners, employees, contractors, and clients can trust one another and consistently fulfill their roles and responsibilities, businesses tend to enjoy more stability. But people disagree or see things differently, and that means business disputes can arise at any time, for any number of reasons—even in businesses that typically run smoothly. For Minnesota businesses looking to settle those disputes while preserving their relationships, mediation offers a way to talk through the dispute and the potential solutions with the guidance of a neutral mediator. If you decide to explore this option, here are a few tips for identifying a mediator who can best address your needs.
Do Your Research
When facing a business dispute, it’s tempting to rush toward a resolution as quickly as possible. However, this hurried approach may get you a quick outcome that doesn’t last. It’s tempting to gloss over difficult underlying issues, but if then you may find yourself rehashing the same argument a few weeks or months later. Instead, take some time to research mediators in your area; get referrals from other business owners; if potential mediators have websites, read through them; you might even want to give the mediator a call so you can get a sense of their approach and experience — though if you do, don’t be surprised the mediator doesn’t want to get into the details of your case because that might compromise their neutrality. Consider whether you want a mediator who will keep their opinions to themselves and focus on facilitating the discussion between the parties, or if your disagreement might be helped by a mediator who will offer some evaluation of the dispute. If you are looking for an evaluative approach, make sure the mediator you choose is willing to provide it.
Choose a Mediator You Can Trust
While experience and skill are important aspects of an effective mediator, you should also gravitate toward someone who inspires confidence and trust. You want someone who will stay neutral; even in evaluative mediation, you don’t want a mediator who seems to be taking sides. And because mediation works best when the parties are communicating with each other, you’ll want a mediator who is a good communicator, who can ask good questions and help parties compose their thoughts and share what matters most to them. Consider your communications with the mediator—does the mediator respond promptly to your emails and calls? Do they seem able and willing to encourage the parties to work together towards a common goal? Do they come across as trustworthy, professional, and competent? Mediation is not always smooth sailing, so it’s important that you feel confident in the mediator’s ability to keep the parties moving toward a resolution.
Make Sure the Mediator Promotes Collaboration
What separates a competent mediator from a stellar one is the ability to gently encourage collaboration among the disputing parties. Good mediators aren’t afraid of strong emotions or conflict, but they also don’t let them derail or dominate the mediation. Effective mediators know when to stay silent and when to step in to propel the conversation forward. They ask questions to draw out answers that might spark the parties into following a new path to a solution that just hadn’t occurred to them. They use nonverbal cues to put the disputing parties at ease so that they can feel more comfortable during the process, and they show respect for everyone in the discussion and do their best to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be heard. Ultimately, you should trust that the mediator you choose will help you arrive at your shared goal—a lasting resolution.
Interested in learning more about how the mediation process can help you resolve your business dispute in Minneapolis or St. Paul? Give Rubric Legal LLC a call today at (612) 465-0074 to get started.