Do Both Parties Have To Agree To Mediation?

Mediation can be an excellent method to resolve any kind of dispute legal dispute, court dispute, and even a personal dispute. Mediation has the ability to introduce a neutral, unbiased third party that can lower the heat of a conflict and can introduce finding the existing common elements where people already agree. But do both parties have to agree? Well, generally yes. However, mediation many times can be used to get both parties on the same page where if one person works with a mediator, they may be able to pass along soundbites or snippets to the other party to get them involved with the mediation. In fact, sometimes having the adversarial party contact a mediator directly can open up that chain of conversation.  

A mediator doesn’t take sides. They don’t pick who’s right or wrong. Even if somebody is right or wrong they don’t pick who is correct and who is incorrect. What they’re trying to do is find common ground and they would take away that adversarial energy that exists between parties that are in conflict over something. So if you introduce a mediator to find that common ground, maybe it can bring the other side into the conversation either directly or indirectly.

Look, a lot of times the reason for a conflict is because one person has an ax to grind with the other or they may have some bad blood or just general anxiety about the other person’s history. They may be bringing mental baggage to the conversation or spite and a third-party mediator who is not taking sides is easier to talk to. The mediator is a facilitator of that communication. Whatever your conflict is, you want to have that resolved even if you want to have a resolve by you winning. You want to have it resolved. You don’t want to stay in conflict forever. A mediator will help find and navigate that pathway to it without you having to sacrifice yourself or make accommodations. 

The biggest reason for conflicts continuing is pride. People don’t want to feel like they’re a loser or giving in, or they don’t want to feel like they’re agreeing with the other side. A mediator can facilitate that in most conflicts. 80% of the “conflict” in quotes is already agreed upon. 80% of what in theory is being argued about is already people are on the same page. It’s that small 20% that needs to be resolved. And in most cases, there’s even common ground within that perceived conflict. Sometimes it could be a trade-off I’ll give you this you give me that, sometimes it could be to settle on the things that are agreed upon and leave the other ones for later. A mediator doesn’t have their heart in the game. They don’t have any particular conflict and they’re not going to take sides. They’re just going to try to facilitate and navigate a solution to get whatever conflict is resolved to take that headache and maybe even anxiety from an unknown consequence. 

Remember, if you let a third party decide on the answer like a court, you’re at the mercy of their decision. A mediator doesn’t give an order decision. They can’t say you have to do this and you have to do it. The mediator tries to facilitate a resolution between the two parties. I’m sure you would rather have some input on your resolution rather than have somebody slap a gavel on the court bench and say this is what you have to do. Once that’s done, it’s done, you can’t undo that. So having a mediator help facilitate it gives you a lot more input on what the answer is so you don’t have to just swallow whatever a court or a judge or a jury tells you, and you have more input on what the outcome going to be. You might think well if you go to court and have an attorney and you can just argue your case, that’s your input. It may be, but you don’t have the final say. The jury or judge has the final say. And from seeing thousands of court cases over the years I can tell you that whatever opinion any party has yours or the other side, the same way that you look at the other side being a hundred percent wrong and the other side looks at you as being a hundred percent wrong, the jury or the judge are going to think both of you are 50% wrong. You think the other side is a hundred percent wrong, they think you’re a hundred percent wrong, and that jury or judge in the middle they’re going to think you’re both 50% wrong. So you’re at risk of being 50% penalized for whatever position you have. Mediation can help save your case from being resolved in a permanent way that may not be the most ideal outcome.

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