While you might have heard of mediation, very little is known to the public about what mediation really is and the many ways it can be used to derail the high cost of conflict.
This post gives you the lowdown on mediation – the surprising scoop and its many benefits that everyone should know.
As most lawsuits settle before the judge decides, litigants are increasingly turning to mediation to resolve their disputes. But contrary to common belief, mediation is not just for parties to court proceedings.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a confidential, non-binding process for resolving conflicts between two or more people. It is a structured negotiating process facilitated by a neutral third party.
Mediation is often confused with arbitration, which is a private substitute for court litigation where an arbitrator makes legally binding decisions like a judge.
In contrast, the mediator has no authority to make decisions for the parties and cannot give legal advice. Mediation allows the parties to create their own unique solutions. As a result, parties are generally more satisfied with the solutions reached.
Likewise, mediation does not focus on who is right and who is wrong. It focuses on forward-thinking and creating unique solutions.
Who is mediation for?
Since mediation is a conflict resolution process, anyone involved in a conflict can benefit. “Conflict” can be defined best as a clash of differing viewpoints, values, opinions, needs, or interests that causes ongoing resentment or hostility between those involved.
After all, as human beings, we interpret interactions, situations, and events according to our own set of personal experiences and beliefs. And our interpretations about events (not the event itself) that create our feelings. So, it’s those differing interpretations that often clash and create conflict.
Depending on the nature of a given conflict, the consequences can be seriously costly, and not just in terms of dollars. For instance, conflicts in business and the workplace can cost significant time, money and productivity, and employee engagement.
When conflict reaches the point where lawyers are hired, financial costs can skyrocket. And it’s not just lawyers’ fees that add up. Steep settlements can eat into a company’s profits.
In our personal lives, it can cost important relationships and even our health. This article explains how we can become more susceptible to illnesses, chronic pain, and depression as a result of conflict.
Conflicts can arise with anyone – with those we have relationships with, like spouses and family members, or in the workplace or between business leaders.
Many Types of Mediation
Mediation can be used to resolve a wide variety of interpersonal conflicts. Specific types of mediation include the following:
1. Family mediation. Emotions often run high in families. And family dynamics often play a key role in how family members relate to one another. Family mediation can help to can bring loved ones together rather than tear them further apart.
2. Marital Mediation. For couples experiencing difficulties in their marriage, marital mediation helps them understand the source of conflict and see a positive future for the marriage. Very often, lack of communication or poor communication is the root cause of why marriages break up. Through marital mediation, couples can learn the skills essential for successful marriages. To find out more, click here.
3. Divorce Mediation. Divorcing spouses often use mediation to resolve such matters as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of marital assets and debts so that a divorce agreement can be drafted and signed. To find out more, click here.
4. Workplace Mediation. Mediation can be used to resolve interpersonal disputes in the work environment. These can include, for example, manager/staff difficulties; difficulties arising from organizational change, or allegations of harassment or bullying.
5. Business and Shareholder Dispute Mediation. Emotionally charged conflicts between shareholders, LLC members, or partners are common because much is often invested in the business relationship. And businesses are increasingly mediating complex business disputes before filing a lawsuit.
Business disputes can involve claims of breach of fiduciary duty, conflicts over buyout terms, executive compensation, and rights to company dividends. And business attorneys are ethically precluded from handling conflicts between individual business owners because they represent the company as a whole. Mediation can also be used to resolve supplier disputes, for example, related to defective products or services.
6. Family Business Mediation. Family businesses often involve unique challenges and potential for conflict. Disputes can arise over the control or operation of the business, family alliances and sibling rivalries, or friction when it comes to promotions and succession. When conflict in family business escalates, family members can find themselves questioning whether the health of both business and family can be maintained. Family business mediation can help family business members to take charge of conflict and experience peace of mind and increased productivity.
The above are just some examples of the many often overlooked conflicts mediation can resolve. And it’s important to select the right mediator with the experience and skillsets needed.
In any event, whenever you are experiencing the many negative consequences of unresolved conflict, consider mediation to bring creativity and peace to your important relationships.
Don’t find fault, find a remedy.–Henry Ford
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