Miles Canyon footbridge

Menu:

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process (ADR) where a third party (mediator) assists parties who are involved in a conflict to solve the dispute. The role of the mediator is to facilitate the discussion, while the parties are responsible for determining a solution. The mediator is considered a neutral third party, and as such, has no vested interest in the outcome of the dispute.

Mediation attempts to be a more harmonious, more participatory and less costly alternative to litigation, where individuals can make a specific contribution to the outcome.

Mediation is not an option for all disputes. Disputes in which there exist a large imbalance of power between the parties, and situations where one party wishes to mediate but the other does not, are not amenable to mediation. 

There are six stages to a mediation process - 

Pre mediation

Prior to conducting a mediation, the mediator will meet with each party independently. It is important to the mediator to get a sense of the issues involved in the dispute from each party, and to determine whether mediation is the best process to resolve the conflict. The mediator will assess the willingness of each party to engage in mediation, and determine whether there are power imbalances that would make mediation difficult, or impossible.

Introducing the Process

In the first stage of a mediation, the mediator outlines the process and the mediator’s role in that  process. He/she may also discuss confidentiality issues, and outline rules of engagement necessary to keep the atmosphere collaborative. At this time the mediator will answer any questions about the process the parties may have.

Identifying Issues

In the second stage, issues are identified. Here, each party has the opportunity to tell their 'story’. The mediator will work hard to ensure both parties have adequate time to speak, and will support each party in identifying and communicating issues that are important to that person.

Exploring Interests

This stage is the most important in the mediation process. Interests represent underlying needs that drive people to take a particular position. Interests can be hopes, fears, priorities, concerns or beliefs and assumptions. Interests are what motivate us. Through the exploration of interests, parties in dispute will begin to gain an understanding of the conflict from a different perspective, and will be in a better position to generate solution to resolve the conflict. 

Generating Solutions

Parties brainstorm options to resolve the issues that have been identified. The mediator records the data, and assists parties to generate solutions.

Drafting an Agreement

Parties review options and select those that meet their mutual interests. The mediator will draft a written agreement for the parties to sign. The agreement is for the parties involved in the dispute only, and not for sharing with others. 

________________________________________________

It's important to remember that mediation is a voluntary process. Both parties involved in the dispute must enter mediation voluntarily, and be willing to engage and work toward creating solutions.