Mediation provides disputing parties a way to control their own destinies — instead of placing their fate in the hands of a judge or jury. While the goal of mediation is to arrive together at a workable solution, small conflicts in the process can grow into imposing obstacles if they aren’t handled promptly and appropriately. When a communication issue arises, the mediator will use various strategies to help the parties see if there is a way beyond impasse. Here are a few examples of ways that mediators can encourage the parties to overcome obstacles during mediation.
Using Questions to Overcome Barriers
When the parties reach an impasse and refuse to compromise, the mediator can use strategic questions to spark productive communication. Asking each party to articulate their concerns can shed light on what’s preventing them from negotiating. When they have to take time to spell out not only what they want, but why, parties frequently start to better understand their own underlying interests and shape a new view of the other side and of the whole dispute (and its possible solutions). In many cases, when the parties respond to the mediator’s questions, they find common ground with one another—perhaps they share similar fears or have goals that can be achieved through further compromise. As the parties respond to these questions, they often feel more heard and empowered to proceed with the mediation process.
Managing Unrealistic Expectations
Parties shouldn’t go into mediation expecting to get everything they want. Nor should they be hoping for the mediator to tell them they’re right and the other side is clueless. Winning (and losing) are the stakes in court. Mediation is about solutions, communication, and — in most cases — compromise.
A mediator can help parties consider what they can realistically expect. What might happen if they don’t settle, and leave the dispute in the hands of the court? What would be the worst-case scenario for them? Best-case? What will it cost (in time and energy as well as money) to get there? Is their settlement demand something the other side will be open to discussing? If a settlement is the goal, what does each party need, and what can they reasonably expect the other party to agree to? Chances of reaching an agreement go up if the parties take time to answer those questions, if only in their own minds.
Learn more about the mediation process in Minneapolis and St. Paul by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074 to discuss your goals.