What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a third, neutral person assists two parties to address a conflict by exploring deeper issues and motivations, seeking common interests that point to a solution that’s agreeable to both sides. Anything said to the mediator is confidential.
Isn’t mediation just for situations where a conflict is really bad?
The longer you wait to call in a mediator, the more difficult it can be to reach a consensus. People get dug into their positions and are less likely to look at other perspectives. Mediation can allow both sides to gain an understanding of where the other person is coming from so future conflicts are less likely to happen. The success of mediation depends on the willingness of the conflicting parties to come together.
I thought mediation was something used in the court process or something used during labor disputes.
Mediation is a preferred method in solving disputes in both court and labor because it is collaborative – both sides agree to the outcome. If mediation is not possible (both sides are entrenched in their positions) then the decision for the outcome is made by someone else, either a judge or an arbitrator. Neither side gets a say in the outcome. Mediation is gaining popularity as a way to deal with disputes before they get bad, and the lessons learned during the process allow both sides to communicate in a clearer, more meaningful way.
How does mediation work?
The process begins with both sides agreeing to speak to the mediator about the issues. The mediator meets separately with both sides to see if the conflict is one has potential to succeed. The mediator may give some guidance to each side on how to prepare for the mediation (bring documents). The mediator will also stress the importance of being willing to listen, and change how you see things. Both sides will be asked to sign a document called “Agreement to Mediate” which spells out the mediator’s neutrality, confidentiality and fee.
The mediation session begins with both sides briefly describing their positions. Then the mediator will guide the two parties into the details of the dispute, often asking questions that probe deeper feelings, motivations and assumptions. The two parties will be asked to direct their comments to each other. It’s not uncommon for people to get emotional during the session, but the mediator’s job is to keep the discourse constructive while supporting each side. This exploration of deeper feelings may take some time but it’s important in order to get to the next stage.
Once both sides have a good understanding of where each is coming from, the mediator will ask them to brainstorm options for resolution. The resulting list may include a wide range of solutions that range from those already stated at the beginning to new and innovative resolutions. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will write it down and ask each party to sign it. This is a memorandum of understanding and the mediator may suggest each party have their lawyers review it.
Do I need a lawyer?
Having a lawyer sit in on a mediation session can be helpful, but it’s not necessary.
How much does it cost?
Mediation can cost upwards of $500/hr, however many certified mediators on Vancouver Island range hover at about $200 an hour, with a three-hour minimum. Mediators may specialize in certain fields.
My fee is $125/hr with a three-hour minimum. Costs will be split by each side.