Preparing for Mediation

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Mediation is an extremely effective method of resolving disputes.  There are several things that enhance the possibility of success.

1.  Preparation: Bring anything that may be helpful to refer to when negotiating your settlement.  Sometimes research is also helpful.  If you find a resource in a book or online, bring copies with you to refer to when making your point.  Accurate information is powerful only when presented at the right time. 

2.  Options for Settlement: There has to be some viable alternatives to explore when negotiating a settlement.  The mediator is generally skilled at generating additional options, but the parties are most familiar with the dynamic that exists, and putting some thought about what might work ahead of time will save time in mediation and offer potentially greater results.  Often a sign of a good agreement is that is equally advantageous to either party.  I once had a negotiation that was almost complete, wherein the wife would keep the house and buy out the husband’s portion.  At the last minute, they decided that the husband would keep the house under the same terms.    

3.  Convey Clear Ideas:  Mediation is most effective in a relaxed environment.  Although a signed agreement holds weight and is generally enforceable in court, the process is informal.  So prepare carefully.  If you are nervous, write down your thoughts and practice stating your position clearly and succinctly.  Ask a friend to listen to you and give feedback on how you sound, including the energy you project.  Negative energy, even when it is justified, reduces your opponent ‘s ability to hear.

4.  Commit to Closure:  Lack of closure may be due to fear of reaching a less-than-perfect settlement.  However, closure of a matter with reasonable terms is a benefit, in & of itself.  The emotional toll of a protracted conflict permeates and reduces the joy of living, even in areas of life that are unrelated to the conflict.  The unresolved issue is typically a primary focus of life until the matter is settled.  Is perfect agreement in all disputed matters possible?  Sometimes, but more commonly, settlements are the result of “Give a Little, Take a Little.”  Perfect?  No.  Settled?  Yes.  Settlement offers the freedom to move forward toward a happier tomorrow.