Mediation is a form of collaborative conflict resolution that involves the parties in a dispute agreeing to meet with a neutral third-party mediator who has no stake in the outcome of their discussions. Mediators are neutral third-party individuals who assist in resolving disputes between other people, organizations, or parties. A mediator does not take sides and does not advocate for any one party during the process. Instead, a mediator helps the disputing parties communicate more effectively and resolve their differences in an unbiased manner. Resolving conflicts using mediation is an excellent alternative when compared to other options such as arbitration or litigation because it allows both parties to have a voice and ownership over the final outcome without spending thousands of dollars on attorneys. This article highlights some of the many benefits of using mediation as opposed to other processes for resolving conflicts.
Reduce Litigation Costs and Shorten Litigation Timelines
One of the greatest benefits of mediation over litigation is that mediation can help reduce litigation costs and shorten the length of time you spend in court. Mediation is a more cost-effective method of dispute resolution than litigation. Most parties and organizations that use mediation spend far less money on mediation than they would on litigation. If mediation is not successful and the parties decide to take the matter to court, mediation can assist in helping the parties prepare for court and shorten the amount of time required for scheduling and going to court. While mediation is a confidential process and therefore does not show up on court records, mediation can assist parties in making a strong, more effective case in court. Mediation can help parties better understand and prepare for court because mediation requires parties to work collaboratively to find mutually beneficial solutions to their dispute. Mediation can help parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases and identify potential issues they will face in court, such as opposing counsel’s strategies or the judge’s expectations.
Eliminate Communications Stops
Communication stops or breaks down when parties in a dispute fail to effectively communicate their respective positions to each other. It’s very likely that communication stops during a dispute, as emotions and feelings run high and parties become entrenched in their positions. When communication stops, parties in a dispute have little to no chance of reaching a mutually agreed-upon solution. Instead, they are more likely to remain at an impasse or stalemate and end up taking the matter to court. Mediation can help parties to eliminate communication stops if both parties are willing to work collaboratively with a neutral third-party mediator. Mediators use various techniques to help parties communicate more effectively and resolve their dispute. For example, mediators can help facilitate communication by asking open-ended questions to help parties understand each others’ perspectives, clarify issues, identify needs, and find common ground.
Determine Core Issues
Another benefit of mediation is that it can help parties determine what their core issues are and whether or not they are even negotiable. When mediation is used to resolve a dispute, parties first have to agree on the issues they want to discuss and then find common ground on which they can build a resolution. Most mediators will guide the parties through a brainstorming or discussion process called issue identification or issue clarification. This process helps parties identify their core issues and prioritize them in order of importance. Mediators also help parties determine what their core issues are and whether or not they are negotiable. Once the issues are identified and prioritized, parties can work together to find solutions or alternative resolutions that are mutually beneficial to both of them.
Develop Relationship-Building Skills
Parties involved in a dispute often don’t know each other, which can make the dispute even more difficult to resolve. When the parties don’t know each other, it can be difficult to build a relationship of trust and understanding, which is essential to resolving a dispute. Mediation can help parties develop relationship-building skills because mediation requires parties to work collaboratively with a neutral third-party mediator to find mutually beneficial solutions to their dispute. Depending on the nature of the dispute, parties may find it helpful to create a list of objectives and/or a list of expectations they want to achieve through mediation. Parties should also be prepared to discuss the underlying issues behind their dispute. To effectively discuss the underlying issues, parties may find it helpful to create a list of facts, assumptions, and/or conclusions they have reached or come to about their dispute. These types of lists help parties understand their dispute from different perspectives and help them communicate their positions more effectively.
Help Build Reputation and Trust
Another benefit of mediation is that it can help build reputation and trust between parties who have been in disputes with each other. Parties who have reached an impasse in their dispute may decide to take the matter to mediation to find mutually beneficial solutions. Once mediation begins, all parties involved in mediation have an opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to collaborate and resolve the dispute, as well as their willingness to trust and respect the other party’s position and needs. Once parties have reached an agreement using mediation, they can use the written agreement to confirm their understanding of the dispute and to confirm that they have resolved their dispute in a mutually beneficial way. Mediators can also help parties build their trust and reputation by summarizing and confirming what each party said during the mediation session. This helps parties accurately recall what others have said and helps them confirm that they understand each other’s positions.
The benefits of mediation over litigation are numerous. Mediation is a more cost-effective method of dispute resolution than litigation. Mediation can also help parties determine what their core issues are and whether or not they are even negotiable. Moreover, mediation can help parties develop relationship-building skills, help build reputation and trust, and help prepare parties for court.