Mediation is a confidential and voluntary form of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates a meeting or series of meetings between conflicting parties. This process involves the collaboration of parties in dispute, uniting together with the shared goal of coming to a mutually agreed resolution. Mediation is a dynamic, collaborative and interactive process which allows the views of both sides to be adequately heard.
The mediator is not the decision maker but the facilitator, seeking to establish through negotiation a mutual agreement between the parties. It is the role of the mediator to guide the parties through the conversation and to assist them with exploring possible ways forward. This is a flexible process, empowering parties to negotiate creative and fair solutions while avoiding the judicial process.
Mediation is an accelerated form of dispute resolution, not only saving parties’ time and money but is also a way of avoiding the emotional stress that a continual conflict includes.
Communication is the essential ingredient of the mediation process. Mediation allows for both sides to express their concerns and needs as well as ideally hearing and recognising those of the other side. Through this interaction, the party’s emotional needs can be expressed and understood which humanises the conflict at hand.
Mediation is a time efficient form of dispute resolution whether it is held in one session or over several (ranging from a one day mediation to a facilitation over days, weeks or even months). This compares to the judicial system whereby the resolution process is often arduous and slow moving. Through mediation, long term solutions can be established quickly and methodically.
Often parties involved in a conflict have a continuing relationship whether it be personal or professional. The mediation process seeks to foster alliances through offering a range of solutions to the conflict thus – providing an opportunity for the relationship to be preserved.
Self-determination is a further advantage to mediation. Here, the parties are the final decision makers, voicing their resolution suggestions. The autonomy of the conflicting parties is encouraged through the mediation process. This contrasts to the litigation process where the decision is made by the third party. Mediation allows for the parties to make their own arrangements based on their individual needs.
The fact that parties can self-determine their resolutions means that they are given a platform to ‘think outside the square’. This means that through mediation, parties can come to an arrangement which satisfies the needs of both sides – a conclusion which rarely occurs through litigation. Here, there need be no “win lose” situation, the aim of mediation is for both parties to come away have engaged in the process and being committed to the agreed outcome.
Mediation promotes problem solving as a collective. Through listening to, and understanding the different viewpoints of others, effective long-term solutions can be agreed upon. Mediation is a highly successful process for dispute resolution. The inclusivity that mediation entails allows for the continuation of relationships as well as it being a time efficient, cost effective and fair way of resolving conflicts.