9 Tips for a successful mediation
Family mediation is a process that helps individuals reach an agreement on a range of family issues, such as divorce, separation, or relationship breakdown. The process is facilitated by a professional family mediator, who will help guide constructive communication between both parties and help both sides understand their options.
Due to the nature of the process, the success of mediation can largely depend on how individuals engage, prepare and behave in mediation.
It’s important that you bring your utmost, prepared self to mediation, so that you can have the most productive discussion possible.
In this article, we’ll look at 9 tips that should lead you towards a successful mediation.
1. Work past the anger
Working past anger is perhaps the most important thing to remember when starting mediation. It’s common for people to experience a range of emotions during a dispute, for example, you might feel angered by your ex partner after a divorce.
However, focusing on practical aspects of the dispute can often result in a more successful mediation. This allows the parties to move past the emotional aspects of the dispute and focus on finding a resolution. Anger can be a natural response to feeling wronged or hurt, but it can also cloud judgement and make it difficult to have productive conversations.
When parties are feeling angry, they may be less likely to listen to the other party's perspective, be less willing to compromise, and more likely to engage in personal attacks or blame. This can make it difficult to resolve the dispute and find a mutually acceptable agreement.
You might feel put off by the thought of sitting in the same room as your ex partner, but mediators often put measures in place to help you feel comfortable. For instance, Mediation First offer online mediation, so that you can mediate from the comfort of your own home.
2. Prepare the necessary documents
Your mediator may request that you bring documentation relating to your dispute. For example, in financial mediation where parties are looking to divide assets and finances, the mediator will likely ask you to bring documentation to help demonstrate your financial situation.
This information helps to verify facts and provide evidence to support your claims. It can also speed up the process of negotiation as the parties can refer to the documents in question, and make the process more efficient.
Having important documents can also be useful in case the mediation process does not result in a resolution, the parties will be prepared to proceed with traditional litigation.
Here are some examples of important documents that may be relevant in mediation:
- Financial documents such as property valuations, mortgage statements, bank statements, pension valuations, business valuations, payslips, and tax returns.
- Any agreements or contracts that are related to the dispute.
- Any relevant legal documents, such as court orders or judgments.
- Any further documents that demonstrate the financial impact of the dispute, such as loss of income or increased expenses.
3. Be patient
Mediation is a process that requires both parties to actively listen to one another, share perspectives and come up with a mutually acceptable agreement. This process can take time and requires patience from both parties.
Being patient allows both individuals to fully explore the underlying issues and interests at hand, which is essential in finding a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. It also allows both parties to carefully consider the options and alternatives presented by the mediator, which can lead to a more informed decision when coming to an outcome.
Being patient also means that the parties should be prepared to invest the time and effort needed to reach a resolution. Mediation is not always a quick fix, it can be a process that can take several sessions to reach a resolution.
4. Be respectful of the other party
Being respectful means treating the other party with dignity and courtesy, and making an effort to understand their perspective and feelings. It also means you should refrain from any personal attacks or blame, or any behaviour in general that could be seen as confrontational or aggressive.
Respectful behaviour helps to create an environment of trust and mutual understanding, which is essential for effective communication and cooperation. It allows you to focus on the issues at hand, rather than becoming sidetracked by personal conflicts.
5. Don't expect the other person to change their mind
It's important to understand that the goal in mediation is not to change the other party's mind, but rather to find a mutually acceptable agreement. Each party comes to the mediation with their own perspective, feelings, and interests, and it’s not always possible that this will change during the process.
Expecting the other party to change their mind can create unrealistic expectations and make it difficult for you to reach a resolution. Instead, focus on finding a solution that addresses your interests and needs, as well as the other party's.
Pushing your point of view on the other party too heavily can make the party feel threatened or cornered, this can create a confrontational atmosphere, making it difficult to reach a resolution.
6. Be flexible
When attending mediation, it's important to be flexible as it can help to find a resolution that is mutually acceptable for both parties. It allows you to be open to different options and alternatives, and be willing to consider different perspectives.
Being flexible helps to create a more productive and positive atmosphere for resolving the dispute. By keeping flexible you're preventing the situation from becoming stuck, instead you’re allowing yourself and the party to find a resolution that addresses the underlying interests and needs of you both.
This sometimes means you have to be willing to compromise, which can be necessary to reach a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. Ultimately, in mediation you’re looking to find an outcome that satisfies both parties, being flexible is a great way to do this.
7. Understand the mediator's role
Understanding the role of the mediator is important for a successful mediation process. The mediator is a neutral third party who is trained to facilitate communication and negotiation between the parties. They do not take sides or make decisions for the parties, but rather create a safe and structured environment for the parties to express their needs, concerns, and interests.
By understanding the mediator's role, you’ll have realistic expectations of what the mediator can do, for example you shouldn’t expect your mediator to take a side, or make a decision for you.
However, the mediator can help to identify any underlying issues or roadblocks that are stopping the resolution, and provide guidance and tools to overcome them.
It's also important to understand that the mediator's role is not only to help the parties reach an agreement, but also to ensure that the process is fair, respectful, and confidential.
8. Ensure the decision makers are present
It is important to ensure that the decision makers are present during mediation because they are the individuals who have the authority to make plans and approve any solutions proposed. If one party does not attend mediation, the mediation process unfortunately cannot proceed.
Typically, the people making decisions in mediation will be the parties to the mediation process. However, there may be occasions (e.g., where a third party has parental responsibility for a child) where others have a vested interest or influence in the decisions being made.
Having all relevant the decision makers present, subject to this being deemed safe and appropriate, can make the process more efficient and allow for effective communication and negotiation. It ensures that the parties are able to directly address any concerns or questions they may have with the individuals who have the power to make agreements.
Additionally, it allows the decision makers to have a better understanding of the issues and concerns of the other party, and to make informed decisions.
Furthermore, if the decision maker is not present, the process may lead to wasted time and resources. The mediation process may be prolonged and the parties may have to schedule another session for the decision maker to be present, which can be both financially and emotionally draining.
9. Get a good night's sleep the night before
Getting a good night's sleep the night before mediation is important for several reasons. It can help you maintain focus during mediation, which is particularly beneficial when trying to communicate effectively and negotiate solutions. When you are well-rested, you’re likely to think more clearly, process information more efficiently, and be more patient and calm.
Getting a good night's sleep can also help you to manage stress and anxiety. Mediation can be a stressful process, and it is important to be able to manage your emotions in order to have a successful outcome. A good night's sleep can help to reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to be more composed and level-headed during the mediation.
There are a number of ways you can help ensure a successful mediation. Ultimately, it comes down to you making sure you're fully prepared for the mediation session, emotionally, physically and logistically. Keeping your emotions in control, getting a good night's rest and preparing all of your important documents can help you to feel as confident as possible for the mediation session.
These tips are helpful for mediation but it’s important to remember that if you’ve never done mediation before, the process may still feel uneasy and strange to you. This is natural. The mediator should be accommodating to your emotional needs whilst helping to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.
Speak to a mediator
For more information, get in touch with one of our friendly mediators.