If a dispute has come as far as mediation then it is in everyone’s interests to make that mediation work. Court cases are costly and time-consuming, as well as emotionally draining for everyone involved. There can only be one winner – and one loser. Whilst you might feel your case is strong, there is still a risk that you won’t get the result you want.
Mediation can offer a win-win solution – where parties work together to come to an agreement that is acceptable for all. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. Here are four tips to give the mediation process a good chance of resolving a conflict and reaching a successful outcome:
- Let the other party choose the mediator
You might think choosing the mediator yourself will give you the best chance of getting what you want. But actually, letting the other party choose immediately demonstrates openness, willingness and a desire to cooperate. It starts the process off in the best, most positive manner and can often be disarming. The mediator’s role is to be neutral and to work with all parties to reach a resolution that works for everyone. You will normally put forward recommendations, but if you let the other party choose, it shouldn’t matter who made the original selection.
- Don’t argue about who is right – and who is wrong
Mediation is not about deciding who was right and who was wrong in a particular case. It is about finding a solution to the problem that avoids a court battle. For mediation to succeed, all parties need to accept some share of responsibility for resolving the situation – moving past blame to prioritise resolution.
- Leave any aggressive advisers at home
This may seem counterintuitive, as your solicitor / barrister may well have been the one who has brought your case as far as mediation and who knows your case so well. But at this point, it is important to have with you representative who is ‘mediation friendly’. Mediation requires a different mindset – looking for commonality and agreement. If your Barrister approaches the Mediation as a ‘mini trial’ this is unlikely to help the mediation process. If your solicitor / barrister, has the right collaborative approach to the principles of mediation, with your best interests in mind, this will give it the best chance of success.
- Start with the easy parts
Beginning any mediation discussion with areas of agreement sets the tone for the rest of the negotiation. Highlighting common ground demonstrates your commitment to a positive outcome. Harder issues can be dealt with further on in the discussion, once an atmosphere of collaboration has been created. Beginning with the most difficult areas to get them ‘out in the open’ can simply set a course for disagreement and division.
When approached with these points in mind, mediation can ensure all parties are able to resolve their differences. Disputes can be resolved and all those involved can move forward with their business and personal lives.