5 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL MEDIATION
Mediation is one of many forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to keep parties out of the courtroom and in control of their own destiny. Unfortunately, if parties to a legal action were able to effectively communicate with each other, there would be no dispute left to be resolved! Navigating disputes can be physically and emotionally difficult, so here are 5 tips for making the most out of mediation.
1. Choose an open mind.
Even if mediation is scheduled solely to fulfill a requirement before getting your day in Court, come to the table open to the process. Mediation is doomed from the start if one or more people involved are convinced the process will fail before it has even begun. An instant clue someone isn’t open to the process is sitting with crossed arms, so be aware of body language. A negative attitude is just as contagious as a positive one!
Really try to concentrate on your breathing. It’s normal to feel anxious, especially before the mediation session begins, and focusing on your breathing can help you stay relaxed. While you’re focused on your breathing, you probably won’t be thinking about negative emotions. A good Forbes magazine article about breath control you might want to read may be found at http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/05/14/breathing-and-your-brain-five-reasons-to-grab-the-controls/.
3. Bring a notepad and writing instrument.
I know a lot of people have ditched traditional pen and paper for an iPad, laptop or similar electronic device, but this suggestion isn’t solely about taking notes. If you feel yourself becoming angry, annoyed, frustrated, etc., you can doodle, scribble or draw on your notepad. Remember when you were a kid and the crayons broke because you were pressing too hard? You do not want to damage your electronic device stabbing it in frustration!
4. Speak to the mediator directly.
When people start to look at the other party instead of the mediator, discussions often become tenser. Consider the fact that in a family law setting, the parties probably know each other well enough to read facial expressions. Nonverbal communication suddenly interferes with the words that are spoken, and discussion can escalate to shouting more quickly than some people realize.
5. Just the facts please.
There’s a big difference between presenting information about one parent’s struggle with addiction and telling the mediator the other parent is a loser. Name-calling and mud slinging is not helpful! My job as a mediator is to remain neutral so that I can help families through whatever challenges they are currently experiencing. If a party is able to sway the mediator into thinking one party is “good” and the other is “bad”, the mediator is no longer neutral and has an ethical obligation to terminate the mediation services. Parties waste valuable time in mediation by making personal attacks instead of making proposals to solve the disputed issues. If you have selected an experienced provider, the chances of shocking your mediator are slim to none.
Remember, mediation can occur with parties in separate rooms. This isn’t always the quickest approach, but it is very effective when emotions are running high. Don’t be afraid to ask your mediator to take a break if you need to gather your thoughts or take time to regain composure.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about mediation or hiring Walker and Galili to mediate a family dispute, please contact us.