5 Ways to Doom a Mediation

By A.I. Adrinfo, Edited by Doug Katz – 03/14/23

Mediation is a process that when presented makes a lot of sense to most people.  This is, however, in the theoretical and when the process starts they behave in opposition to a successful mediation.  When you are working with a delicate balance of viewpoints, temperaments and backgrounds, the process is exceptionally important.  This process depends on everybody behaving in a manner that supports the process.  This does not mean it becomes a friendship circle, but rather a productive environment of informed negotiation, respect and trust.

As a mediator, my goal is to help you and the other party find a mutually beneficial solution to your conflict. However, there are certain things that can doom a mediation from the start. In this article, I’ll go over the top five things to avoid if you want to have a successful mediation.

Lack of commitment

The mediation process requires a commitment from both parties to engage in an open and honest dialogue. Without that commitment, it’s difficult to make progress towards a resolution. So, be prepared to listen to the other party’s perspective and work together towards a solution.  In addition, you must be committed to finding a solution.  Put another way, you need to be as committed to finding a solution as you are to your own position.  As part of this, you need to be committed to understanding the other side and their position.  You may not agree with them and likely do not because you are in conflict.   I stress this because understanding and agreeing are two very different things and, while agreeing is not a pre-requisite for finding common ground and a best alternative, understanding typically is.

Unreasonable demands

Mediation is all about compromise. If you come in with unreasonable demands, it’s unlikely that the other party will be able to meet them, and progress will be halted. Instead, focus on finding common ground and solutions that work for both parties.  Similar to the previous bullet, your demands need to match your commitment.  If you demand a resolution completely aligning with your position, the mediation will not be successful.  This does not mean that you cannot come into the discussion with your position

Lack of preparation

Preparation is key to a successful mediation. Make sure you understand the issues at hand and come in with all the relevant information. If you’re not prepared, it can lead to misunderstandings and unproductive discussions.  This can help a lot with the other dependencies as information outside of your own viewpoint helps you understand the full scope of the conflict as well as the possibilities for resolving the conflict.  A lack of preparation can cause a position to shift more to emotions, feelings and opinions which is a difficult place to get to mutual agreement.

Lack of trust

Mediation requires trust between the parties involved. Without trust, it’s difficult to work together effectively towards a resolution. So, be open and honest, and trust that the mediator is working towards a solution that works for both parties.  The important thing to remember here is that this is not just about you trusting the other parties.  It is about mutual trust amongst all people involved.  You also play an outward facing part in this. My recommendation is to come up with a list of what you want to see behaviorally from the party with whom your in conflict.  Then review the list and put yourself on the opposite side.  If you are not willing to abide by or behave in accordance with them, why would anyone else.  Trust is based upon expectations of fairness and if the other side cannot trust you, the mediation could fail.  Finally, trust is earned and you trusting the other party will help them trust you.  Remember, you will not have to agree to anything, that trust does not cost you anything and it will widen the scope of resolution.  You can also trust that the mediator will keep the process on the rails and ensure that both sides are represented in the discussion.

Hostile environment

Finally, a hostile environment can quickly doom a mediation. It’s important to maintain a calm and respectful environment where all parties can speak freely without fear of reprisal. Remember, the goal is to find a solution that works for everyone, not to assign blame or point fingers.  This is a mediation, not Thunderdome.  It is not about destroying the opposing party and if you go into the mediation like it is the octagon, the mediation will likely fail.  Not that the mediation environment needs to be like a Hollywood depiction on Heaven with clouds and golden rays of light, but it should not feel like the place down below either.

In conclusion, mediation can be a powerful tool for resolving conflicts, but it requires a commitment from both parties to engage in open and honest communication. By avoiding these common pitfalls of lack of commitment, unreasonable demands, lack of preparation, lack of trust, and a hostile environment, you can increase your chances of having a successful mediation. As your mediator, I’m here to guide you through the process and help you find a resolution that works for everyone involved.

Disclaimer: This article was created with the assistance of multiple ChatGPT AI language models and has been edited and refined by Douglas Katz. The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional or expert advice. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of ChatGPT or OpenAI. Readers are advised to do their own research and consult with relevant experts before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.