What Does a Mediator Actually Do at Mediation?

What Does a Mediator Actually Do at Mediation?

Mediators are people who can help you when you need to make decisions with someone else, and the two parties cannot agree. Mediators cannot force people to reach an agreement, and cannot take sides. In addition, they cannot offer any legal advice. Given that knowledge, it is easy to understand why so many people think that mediation is a waste of time. What does a mediator really do?

Well, the truth is that mediators play a very important role. They help people to reach agreements without the need for a judge, and if both parties are committed to making the process work, then mediation can save time, alleviate stress, keep matters private (court proceedings become a matter of public record) and save you a lot of money too. Mediators keep a neutral role, and act as an impartial person who will ask questions and keep the discussion on track. In a scenario where a dispute is serious enough that the two parties cannot discuss it civilly alone, but the desire to reach an agreement is still there, a mediator can be very valuable.

You Guide the Process

When a dispute goes to court, the two parties lose complete control over the process and are bound by whatever the court decides. Mediators allow you to keep control over the decision making process. The mediator is there purely to stop the dispute from getting out of hand. Mediators do not grant orders, and they will not act impartially. They may give advice about non-legal matters – if their opinion is solicited; but they will never give unsolicited advice or legal council.

This makes mediation a safe space. You know that you will be asked hard questions and that the mediator will play devil’s advocate. But you also know that the mediator is there to give you a reality check, and that they will give the same reality check to the person on the other side of the discussion. You know that the mediator is not taking sides, and that they just want to see an agreement reached.

Mediators stop arguments from ruining relationships and businesses. They keep both parties focused on the issue at hand. If you have a property dispute, for example, the issue of management in your business may be clouding your judgement if you feel that the person you are in dispute with regarding the property has wronged you in that respect too. A mediator would help you focus on the issue at hand, and find a non-confrontational way of communicating what it is that you want.

Mediators don’t just focus on the letter of the law, they focus on reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to whatever the problem is.

What Does a Mediator Actually Do at Mediation?

Avoiding Court

Going to court is expensive, it takes a long time, it wastes your time and it leads to stress. Also, you cannot guarantee what the judge will rule. Unless there are millions of dollars on the line, and the case is very clear-cut, it does not make sense to risk seeing your former partner, neighbor or client in the courtroom. Most disputes can be settled like adults with calm, dispassionate discussion.

Sometimes amicable settlements can be reached and relationships can be repaired. Sometimes people can go back to doing business with each other. In many cases, though, people go their separate ways when mediation is over. While this is not ideal, it is still better than the painful and public nature of a trial.

If you choose your words carefully, and the mediator will encourage you to do this, then you will be able to reach an agreement in mediation without committing to anything during the negotiation process. Agreeing to try a visit to a mediator does not mean giving up your right to go to court at a later date if mediation does not work out. Of course, the person you visit will fight to make sure that does not happen – after all, if you end up going to court anyway then that will mean that they did not do their job properly. But, in the short term seeing a mediator makes a lot of sense.

If you have been asked by someone else to talk to a third party about a dispute before going to court, it is worth doing so. Go in with an open mind, and listen to their side of the story. Think about what you actually want. If you are seeing a lawyer already, ask them what they think your chances really are in the courtroom. Remember that while you may think you have a good case and a reasonable chance of getting what you want in court, if things go the other way it could be expensive for you.

Do not take that risk unless you are absolutely certain that you understand what is on the line and you are completely confident and sure of your decision to not negotiate. Do not let greed be the only motivation for going to court – or spite or a desire for revenge. The mediator is trying to find a mutually beneficial resolution to the dispute. It may not be the conclusion that you want the most, but it is a definite and decisive outcome, and it is one that you know will give you some benefit. Sometimes, compromising in that way makes the most sense.

A good lawyer will give realistic advice about the process, but they do also want to get a fee out of you, so read between the lines of what they are saying. Are you really sure that you will get the best possible outcome in court? Are you willing to wait the length of time that outcome would take? If not, then mediation is the best option for your case and you should give it a fair shot.

What Does a Mediator Actually Do at Mediation?

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