There are various processes for resolving disputes including power, litigation, arbitration, and various styles of mediation. Each has its role and its skilled practitioners. These processes may end the conflict but not resolve the underlying causes of the dispute. Facilitative mediation provides the possibility of acceptable solutions to all parties in a dispute and an opportunity for healing and rebuilding relationships. Ideally it addresses the interests — the whys of disputes.
It facilitates direct voluntary communication between the disputing parties. The parties participate because they personally wish to reach a resolution with the assistance of a trained mediator.
The mediator assures impartiality and that all concerns are discussed and understood and that the parties feel understood. The mediator assists the parties in clarifying their perceptions. This simple tool often leads to further sharing and opens doors to not only resolution but to an empathetic understanding of the other party’s perceptions.
Since one trained practitioner works with both parties and communication is direct, the cost of reaching a resolution through mediation is reasonable and usually lasts less than a few hours. Concerns are often addressed that might be neglected in a more formal process.
A core advantage of mediation is that the parties can simply share their feelings, hurts, perceptions and desires within an Oregon state statute of confidentiality. This is explained in detail by the mediator at the beginning of the process. Confidentiality is one of the key catalysts in providing for heart-to-heart conversations.
Another key catalyst is good faith. This is the desire to truly understand the perceptions of the other person rather than a desire to prove the righteousness of a position. Good faith usually leads to acceptable resolutions. This desire to understand is often interpreted as wanting to accept the person even though not agreeing with his/her ideas. This often leads to searching for resolution because of human values rather than just financial remuneration. It is not uncommon for mediations starting with financial demands ending up with resolutions developed more for healing and renewal of relationships.
Often facilitative mediations begin contentiously. All mediators have stories of anger, hollering, etc., but once vented and directed well by the mediator, a change takes place. These initial feelings and hurts gradually evolve into good sharing and, finally, resolution.
When the parties understand each other’s the perceptions and feel understood, the process provides for brainstorming of possible resolutions. These ideas may initiate the creation of an agreement. Once accepted and signed, the agreement becomes a contract. Often the resolution is a firm handshake while the parties look each other in the eye.
The parties feel empowered because the agreement is theirs and, if they wish, can have the agreement reviewed and scribed by their attorneys in a more formal way prior to signing.
In lieu of an agreement, parties can still litigate and have a third party decide their future for them. Usually this means hiring others to represent them in an adversarial way.
Benefits that may result from good faith facilitative mediations are: the healing of perceived injuries, enhanced relationships, clearer goals, team/family collaboration and removal of apprehensions. For siblings this last point can help in assisting elderly parents to make difficult decisions. The aid of a mediator, even without a dispute, may be the key to maintaining good rapport through some difficult and apprehensive times.
In my view, our society should provide more opportunities for facilitative mediation. We need positive ways to resolve disputes, and mediation may be one of these. Prior to having a day in court, people should look into the possibility of using facilitative mediation. Normally, in court, there is a winner and a loser. Why not work on having a win-win resolution?