Here’s the scenario – you need to come up with a solution but there are different points of view. Ideally, you are able to debate the issues and negotiate amicable terms on your own. If that’s the case, you’re done and there is no need to seek further assistance. On the other hand, despite your best efforts to negotiate a solution, communication breaks down or you reach a deadlock. In that case, mediation might be your next best option.
Mediation is a preferred choice of many people who wish to preserve relationships, avoid further conflict, and ultimately find a mutually agreeable solution. Many types of disputes are suitable for mediation provided all parties are willing to give the process a try and are open to working together to resolve their differences.
I have been mediating for nearly 20 years and have facilitated thousands of mediations, mostly custody related issues as part of the separation/divorce process. As a mediator for 12 years with Small Claims (Provincial) Court I conducted mediations that included employer-employee relationships, property issues, contracts, landlord-tenant, parenting, and divorce/separation issues. As a mediator, it is my responsibility to create a safe, respectful environment and ensure all parties have the opportunity to hear and be heard. My job is to facilitate communication, address any power imbalances, manage emotions, keep clients focused on the issues they are trying to resolve, and document those agreements in a written summary for my clients.
Mediation is a process that allows the people most impacted by the outcomes to remain in control of the resolutions reached. Mediation is a powerful process that has the best chance of success if:
1) All sides to a dispute are more interested in resolving an issue than arguing about it.
2) A well-trained, experienced, and capable mediator facilitates the mediation.
An important point to note is that solutions reached through the process of mediation tend to be followed because the people most impacted created them. In my opinion, successful mediation is not defined by a full agreement on all issues but instead, is a series of smaller successes beginning with an agreement to give the process a try.