The Importance of Goal Setting in Mediation

Mediation is a great way to explore the possible ways you might resolve a dispute more quickly, less expensively, and with less head-butting conflict than you might experience in litigation. But mediation works best when the parties are invested in it. One way you can make mediation more productive and more worthwhile is to go into it with a sense of what you want to get out of it. Knowing what your goals are will help structure the mediation session by:

  1. Making you think through what is important to you before you walk in.
  2. Helping the other party see what matters to you (and, conversely, helping you understand what’s important to them).
  3. Providing the mediator with a loose agenda and a way to make sure the parties are addressing the issues they’ve identified as key.

Identifying the Root of the Conflict

You come to mediation because you are caught up in conflict. Maybe it’s a struggle with your business partners or a client. Perhaps you and your ex are struggling over co-parenting. Whatever the fight you see on the surface, there are almost always underlying interests and values driving you – and those interests and values will be key to any solution.. A mediator will try to help you identify those interests and values and how they are impacting the conflict, but taking the time in advance to think about why you are in conflict – what principles are at stake for you, and what steps led to this conflict – can help you recognize communication issues or trust violations that may make negotiations difficult. Once the parties and the mediator better understand potential challenges, they can move forward with particular attention to these existing patterns.

Focusing on Your Shared Vision

When the parties come to mediation with goals, able to articulate what is important to them and why, then they can both i) share that vision with the mediator and the other side and (at least as importantly) ii) hear and understand what is important to the other party and why. While the disputing parties may approach the mediation process feeling at odds with each other, they often find that they share a common goal. Recognizing that they both desire a peaceful resolution and a solid foundation from which to move forward, the parties can return to this shared vision at various points during the mediation process. As more minor disagreements arise, the mediator can encourage the parties to focus on the bigger picture, inspiring them to collaborate in pursuit of their desired goals.

Improving Communication and Preserving Relationships

The collaborative process of mediation naturally encourages open and honest communication between the parties. As a result, many participants find themselves satisfied with the result, as they’ve actively shaped the outcome. Additionally, divorcing couples or business partners may walk away on better terms, as the mediator has helped them see they are capable of working together toward a common goal even when they disagree on things that matter to them.


If you’re interested in learning more about the mediation process in Minneapolis and St. Paul, call Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.

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