Mediation is a different type of approach to conflicts. Unlike arbitration where a judge or arbitration decides the outcome of a conflict, mediation allows the parties to come together and find an agreeable resolution themselves. Therefore, it is wrong to classify mediations as meetings. Mediators are skilled and experienced professionals who focus on creating a dialogue between the parties. They focus on conflict resolution and try their best to help the parties understand each other. As experienced mediators may know, the field of mediation has changed in the past several years. While old school mediation was based on a winner-loser type of discussion, new school styles of mediation are based on the latest thinking regarding conflict and conflict resolution. However, before understanding the shift in new school styles of mediation, it is important to comprehend the old style schools.
In Old Style Mediation, there were two goals for each party: (1) to get their way and (2) emerge as the winner and make sure the other party is a loser. The conflict among the parties was seen as a battlefield where there could only be one winner and one loser. The other party was seen an opponent that essentially had to be eliminated. The lawyers were seen as experts in the battlefield who would instruct the parties in a way that would help them win. Judges were seen as the final decision-makers who would determine the winner and provide instructions on what to do in the future. If that sounds familiar to you as a mediator, judge, lawyer, or client, you have been practicing the older style of mediation.
In New Style Mediation, parties come in with two goals: (1) meet their needs and maybe I accommodate the other party’s needs along the way and (2) have both parties emerge as winners. While this may seem too idealistic to some of our “old stylers,” this type of thinking is becoming a new trend in mediation. Instead of viewing mediation as a battlefield, parties come in to resolve their conflict, regardless of winners and losers. Mediation is evidence that the two parties have competing interests, but this does not necessarily mean they cannot work together to resolve their differences and come up with mutually satisfactory solutions.
Alexandria Skinner perfectly sums up mediation in one sentence by saying,” Mediation EMPOWERS participants to make their OWN DECISIONS that RESOLVE conflict for a FRACTION THE COST of litigation.” New Style Mediation, like Old Style Mediation, can be used to resolve any type of dispute, including divorce and family meeting disputes. Although mediation may not solve all of your conflicts, it is a great way to start a conversation between the parties. The hope is that parties will be able to better understand each other and come up with mutually beneficial solutions.
Source referenced: Just Mediation