As a Mediator it is important to always maintain a neutral position during any mediation process. However, there are three options of achieving this goal, based on the needs and desires of the parties involved. These options include Facilitative Mediation, Evaluative Mediation and Transformative Mediation. They are all different, but work together to bring about a common goal – Resolution of the Conflict.
Facilitative Mediation is the most commonly known type of mediation. During Facilitative Mediation, the mediator’s goal is to help facilitate an environment in which both parties are able to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. The mediator does this by asking both parties questions and seeking to identify and communicate the competing interests held by each party – which at times can be masked by party positions.
Furthermore, the mediator will normalize each party’s point of view while helping to find and analyze possible solutions for the issues at hand. While helping to find solutions, the mediator does not actually make any judgment or recommendations or give his advice during the process. The mediator’s goal in this situation is to foster an environment that will allow both parties to be the primary decision makers.
Evaluative Mediation requires a mediator to have further insight into the legal conflict presented by a given case and a good working command of the applicable rules and court decisions. During Evaluative Mediation the neutral helps each party to see the weaknesses of their case by predicting how a judge or jury might evaluate the outcome. Furthermore, mediators in this situation tend to focus on each party’s legal rights rather than their needs and interests.
While it may seem as though this process may tip the scales and compound the conflict, rather than smoothing turbulence, the mediator remains neutral by helping both sides equally. Even if one party’s case has more weaknesses than the other, by pointing these weaknesses out, the mediator is in fact aiding that party in seeing such weaknesses and possibly helping them to come to a favorable resolution under the circumstances that might otherwise be elusive.
In this genre of mediation, the mediator may make formal or informal suggestions as to the outcome of the mediation. The mediator does influence the mediation resolution in Evaluative Mediation.
Transformative Mediation is mediation’s newest genre. This type of mediation focuses mainly on party independence. The mediator’s goal is to allow each party to recognize the other party’s needs and interests independently of mediator influence. Furthermore, the mediator allows both parties to establish the flow of the mediation process. During Transformative Mediation, the parties in dispute lead as the mediator follows.
In order to determine which mediation process would work best for your legal issues, be sure to closely examine your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much guidance will both parties require during mediation?
- Do I see this issue being taken to court after mediation?
- Can both parties cooperate well with each other to act independently?
After reading each mediation description and asking yourself the above listed questions, you may have a sense or preference for one mediation style over another. A skilled and experienced mediator cn move between styles as needed, or combine and blend styles if necessary to achieve a fair and mutually agreeable outcome. Don’t be afraid to ask you potential mediator about his or her style preferences and flexibility.