Mediation is a process that involves all parties in a dispute (usually disputants plus their lawyers and other interested people) and a neutral third person (the mediator). The mediation is less formal than a court proceeding or arbitration. During the mediation, disputants try to resolve their conflict in a cooperative and cost-effective manner. They focus on the underlying problems that caused the dispute rather than on determining who is right and wrong. The outcome of a mediation is not enforceable by law unless both parties agree to it, and even that result can be subject to further negotiations. Mediation helps preserve relationships and may be more cost effective than a lawsuit.
In the opening session of most mediations, each party is invited to make an opening statement. They describe their side of the story and the financial and personal consequences of the dispute to the mediator and other participants. During this stage, the mediator may encourage an open discussion of all issues. The mediator might also entertain general ideas for resolution. The mediator will ask questions to get at emotional undercurrents and encourage participation by all.
The mediator will help the disputants focus on their issues, interests and options for resolution in private sessions called caucuses. In the caucuses, disputants are encouraged to listen, keep confidences, be empathetic, suspend preconceived judgments, and focus on resolving the underlying conflict. Mediator-facilitated methods of developing options might include group processes, brainstorming sessions or the use of hypothetical plausible scenarios. mediation process