Mediation Details and Process

Mediation Details and Process

What’s different about Mediation?

The major difference between mediation and other forms of conflict resolution is that mediation focuses on the future rather than past, and looks to establish common ground between parties. Other forms of conflict resolution can end up polarising differences with the usual outcome of this being that there is one winner and one loser at best and at worst lose-lose.

During the mediation the Parties have an opportunity to share their feelings and describe what impact the dispute has had on them. This can be especially helpful as it can release pent up tension that could otherwise get in the way and prevent resolution from developing later on in the mediation process.

A snapshot comparison between Mediation and other methods of dispute resolution:

Voluntary Imposed
Private, confidential and without Prejudice – can promote open and honest discussion Can involve several stages with full disclosure – may inhibit parties who fear some form of reprisal
Parties represent themselves and are encouraged to tell their own story in their own words, identifying what’s really underpinning the dispute May involve many parties’ versions including reluctant witnesses to establish facts
Future focused Identify what happened in the past
Outcome – parties assisted to develop their own mutually agreed resolution – leading to a Win Win situation Outcome – made by others, and may seek to apportion blame, usually 1 winner and 1 loser
Less adversarial Can polarise and exasperate
It’s quick usually over 1 or 2 days Slow usually weeks to several months and in some cases even longer
Create a better understanding of each other’s interest and needs, preserving and or re-establishing working relationships Can cause further conflict and breakdown in relationships
Cost: Mediators fee Cost of Conflict: Direct and indirect costs; Legal costs

At what stage should mediation take place?

Some believe mediation will only normally be successful at the early stages of conflict, before the parties get too entrenched in their positions.

We at The People Catalyst believe mediation can also be very effective in cases where conflict has gone on for some time. In some instances at the initial stage of conflict people take up protective stances to what they perceive as their rights, and perhaps because they do not want to lose face. However over time conflict doesn’t feel good and has a negative impact on the parties and those around them. In most cases parties begin to appreciate that something needs to change.

So mediation can be used at any stage in conflict, however if there is an ongoing formal procedure this would need to be put on hold, to allow the parties the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the process.

What is the Mediator’s role?

The mediator is the catalyst in the process and aims to get the disputing parties to identify their issues. The mediator remains neutral and impartial thereby not taking sides or passing judgement. Their role is to aid communication between the parties, to assist them to overcome any emotional blockages, and to focus their attention and effort on resolving their disputes. They do this by getting the parties to consider their interests and needs, instead of what they perceive as their rights and wants and then formulating solutions. The mediator can assist the parties to overcome deadlock, to unlock and release any entrenched positions and ill feelings that may have accumulated in the course of their dispute.


Mediation is Private, Confidential and without Prejudice, anything disclosed during the mediation is disclosed without prejudice and cannot be used in any future proceedings should the parties fail to reach agreement.

A general overview of the Mediation Process

Initially the mediator will meet each party separately and establish what the issues are for them. They will explore expectations about mediation and explain how it works.

During the first stage of the joint meeting the mediator sets out the ground rules for the session and then allows the parties to have some uninterrupted time in which to outline their side of the dispute.

The mediator works with the parties to create an agenda for the meeting, drawing out concerns and issues by agreeing what can realistically be settled by listening to background information from all sides.

The mediator will encourage parties to take one issue at a time and to generate a range of options as a way forward.

The mediator will ensure that any agreements reached by the parties are workable and fully understood by all parties. If required the mediator will prepare a written agreement and distribute it to the parties. Any notes that were made during the session will be destroyed.

If you'd like to discuss your situation, or would like to find out more, please get in touch: