When two parties need to settle a dispute, they do so with the understanding that they are disposing of their adversarial positions and instead are moving towards finding a solution with the guidance of a neutral third party. In that way, a business mediator does help both sides, because the goal is to help them come to an agreement rather than to make a decision for them. When you make the decision to resolve a dispute through mediation it is the first collaborative step towards your goal: both sides must agree, not only on using a mediator to find an acceptable answer but also on who the mediator will be.
A good business mediator will make it clear that though they may have opinions, it is not their role to offer them. Rather, their job is to keep the focus on the process itself, helping both parties to take responsibility for finding the best solution that will work for both sides. The mediator is there to help that process along, sometimes by clarifying points of contention, acting as a conduit, or helping both sides to see beyond their original narrow focus. To fulfill this role, a mediator is likely to follow several predictable steps to facilitate agreement and settlement. They include:
- Encouraging both sides to communicate directly with one another
- Ensuring that both sides have a full understanding of how the mediation will be managed and what the goals of the mediation are
- Communicating messages to and from each side
- Encourage both sides to create an agreed-upon agenda for the mediation together, or should that prove impossible, create an agenda themselves
- Provide a setting for the mediation in which both sides feel comfortable and neither side is advantaged
- Keep things peaceful, orderly and on track
- Identify the challenges that exist and clarify the conflict that has brought all parties to the point of requiring mediation
- Clarify expectations of the process
- Facilitate reaching an agreement by helping both sides to create proposals that meet their own needs and might be acceptable to the other side
- Facilitate negotiation
- Suggest solutions based on each side’s proposals and objections
- Encourage resolution as each side grows closer
A business mediator brings skill and experience to the table, allowing both sides to achieve a level of satisfaction without favoring either. If you need information on how a business mediator can help you resolve a challenging issue, contact us today to discuss how we can help.