What is Mediation and How Does It Work?

Robin Noah

Author: Robin Noah

Executive Coaches of Orange County


Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator/Mediator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement.  Parties in mediation create their own solutions and the mediator does not have any decision-making power over the outcome. The following is a brief overview.

Mediation is a process is often the best solution for settling a disagreement or conflict. It can successfully and inexpensively resolve disputes and open lines of communication that foster better business relationships

Since most conflicts involve underlying emotional issues there is reluctance for the parties involved to move forward.   We tend to approach the problems with fear and hesitation, afraid that any conversations will go worse than the conflict has gone thus far; the stronger the feelings the more difficult the resolution.  In most cases there is a desire to resolve the issues amicably, without litigation and before relationships are damaged forever.  

How does it work?   First of all the parties need to engage a Mediator that is acceptable to each side.  Once there is acceptance of the Mediator the mediation process begins.

One method is for the Mediator to interview each party to get an idea of the issues. The next step is to schedule a meeting for all concerned. 

At the meeting the Mediator will give an opening statement. This outlines the role of the participants and demonstrates the mediator’s neutrality.  Next, the mediator will define protocol and set the time frame for the process. , After the opening statement, the mediator will give each side the opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted.  Mediation is not necessarily searching for the truth; it is a way to help solve the problem.  In the continuing period there is discussion, negotiation and a final agreement or settlement that satisfies both parties.  A formal agreement is prepared and signed by both parties.  The Mediator does not sign as he/she is not part of the resolution.  Ultimately the follow up of the agreement is the responsibility of the parties involved.  If the agreement is defaulted litigation may be the next step.

You can learn more about conflict resolution and mediation by searching the Internet.