What community mediation can teach attorneys about the mediation process, Part 2 of 3

| November 26, 2012 | 0 Comments
Presence & Mediation

Being present in mind for better results in mediation

In my earlier post, I started discussing what community mediation and mediators can teach attorneys about the mediation process. In this post, I will give you a few more concepts the community mediation model and community mediators can teach us about the mediation process.

4. Community mediators drill down past the surface with questions and not “I think” statements

Community mediators focus on core issues and not superficial positions to solve problems at mediation. This is a direct result of their training and ability to listen and look beneath the surface for issues which are driving the parties to take position based stances in mediation. They do this by drilling down on the feelings and emotions which have not been addressed before the mediation, using good open-ended questions. This helps them figure out the core values the parties bring to the table and how those core values impact the parties’ decision making process. They then integrate the core values into the conversation which allows the participants to see a broader perspective. Seeing the broader perspective – or as I’d like to call it, the 30,000 foot view, allows the parties to make the best and most informed decisions possible. Without this approach, we are often caught in a destructive loop of arguments and miscommunication which a lot of mediators and attorneys are at a loss to break. This is all done by asking hard questions and not “I think” statements.

5. Community mediators lead but don’t impose their judgment on the mediation process

I have been in many mediations where the mediator has felt compelled to tell me and the other attorney his or her opinion. They do this and then say, “Well, that aside, we are here to settle the case”. Unfortunately, this is very destructive to the mediation process and often results in a failed mediation. Why? Because as human beings, no one likes to be told that they are wrong and no one is likely to have an open mind when they are told they are right (or that they have a great case). Just ask yourselves whether or not you would change your position, if someone were to tell you that you are dead wrong. Would you change your position or have an open mind, if someone told you that your counterpart is dead wrong. Yet, even experienced mediators make this mistake.

The mediator’s job is to facilitate a productive discussion and push the parties toward a settlement which they craft. A mediator’s job is not to impose our values and judgments on the ultimate resolution of the case. The most effective way to do this is through questions, not by giving our opinion. Community mediators know this very well because it is a core part of their training. Their approach leads to settlement because they ask great questions rather than telling parties what to do. After all, who likes to be told what to do? This approach allows the parties to help structure their own settlement and fully participate in the mediation process. Who wouldn’t like having that control in their hands?

In my next blog post, I will discuss a few things attorneys and mediators could utilize to improve their chances of success in mediation.



Related Posts:

What community mediation can teach attorneys about mediation, Part 1 of 3

Do you really know what you are feeling in mediation?

Five signs you have not properly prepared for mediation.

Is walking out the best mediation or negotiation strategy?

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