Mediation is a means of dispute resolution available as an alternative to litigating the matter in court. It has a wide range of applications, from probate disputes to family law.
Mediation is not appropriate for every case. However, many parties prefer to use mediation to settle disputes when possible because it is a less confrontational process than litigation that also tends to be less expensive and time consuming. It may be helpful to know what one can expect from litigation and how one can improve the chances for a successful outcome.
What to expect from mediation
Harvard Law School describes six stages of the mediation process, placing particular emphasis on three. The mediator’s introduction outlines the process and establishes the ground rules. Then each side has the opportunity to give opening remarks without interruption. This allows each party to present his or her view of the case as well as to hear the other side.
Then comes a period of joint discussion. In the interest of reaching a better understanding of the needs and concerns of each party, both the disputants and the mediator have the opportunity to ask questions at this point. The mediator may ask for clarification or repeat back what one of the parties has said to confirm proper understanding.
How to get a favorable outcome
The goal of mediation is not winning but reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. SF Gate offers several suggestions to help the process succeed at settling the conflict. It starts with selecting a mediator who can exercise professionalism in highly emotional situations and calming yourself before the mediation starts. You can present your case more effectively if you conduct extensive research beforehand. If the mediation itself becomes too intense, you can take a break to clear your mind and refocus yourself.