Mediation is an alternative form of conflict resolution that allows parties to communicate in a consensual environment with the help of a neutral mediator. Many individuals feel safe communicating in a mediation environment as it is a collaborative and cooperative method of conflict resolution that is done voluntarily with the aid of neutral mediating professional. Mediation is most commonly commenced by the participating parties as opposed to legislation, court orders, or contractual terms. While the job of the mediator is to facilitate communication and encourage mutual decision making, no legal advice is given to the parties by the mediator and all decisions are made fully and solely by the parties in mediation.
The process of mediation is executed under mutual consent, this means that mediation occurs by the willful participation of both parties who understand and consent to the guidelines and procedures of mediation. A mediator will work with both parties to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement in a timely and efficient manner. Because the mediation session is completely voluntary, parties are able to pause, stop, or leave the mediation session at any time, and mediation sessions are kept confidential. Each participant has complete decision making power and is not subject to the imposition of any decision or agreement without their consent. Parties can have the option of discussing their case in private with the mediator, or “in caucus,” or together with the mediator and the other party.
Unlike other conflict resolution processes such as litigation or arbitration, the function at the core of mediation is efficient communication between parties. An ideal mediation session is one where both parties are given the opportunity to present their case, share their perspective, obtain relevant information, contemplate prospective options, and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. During this time, an effective mediator will supervise and facilitate the exchange of information between the parties and ensure that the problem resolution is occurring in a civilized and respectful manner.
When participants work willingly and diligently to achieve a solution, the results of mediation can be very successful. After mediation, not only are mutually accepted agreements made, but personal social, family, and business relationships often remain intact. For individuals looking to avoid the financial and personal costs of litigation, mediation can be a suitable alternative.