Mediation provides an effective dispute resolution tool for people and organizations in conflict, particularly when communications have become ugly, unproductive, or completely shut down. What is mediation? And how could it apply for planning purposes or in the midst of an apparent impasse? Here are answers to key questions about mediation.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process facilitated by a mediator, through which parties to a dispute talk through what got them there, options for resolving the dispute, and underlying needs to be addressed. Mediation provides an alternative to the win/lose dynamic present in court litigation or arbitration, by expanding the range of potential solutions.
For example, consider two neighbors who become frustrated with each other when one blares loud music outside in the daytime but the other sleeps during the day because he has a night job. If their interactions have grown too acrimonious, a mediator may be able to help facilitate a resolution – such as to play music outside at times other than when the night job neighbor typically sleeps.
Or maybe a nonprofit board member is upset about a key strategic decision the leadership must make, and she does not feel like anyone is listening to her. Does she resign in disgust and harm the organization’s reputation by speaking poorly of leadership, or does she seek peaceful resolution of the issue through mediation? A mediator may facilitate dialogue and help identify key issues to address, such as finances, strained relationships, restorative steps desired, and how the parties will move on from the conflict.