Get your ducks in a row: how to prepare for mediation

Hasan SadikAlternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Mediation

prepare

As staunch advocates of mediation, we want every individual who engages in the process to get the very best outcome. The landscape of that outcome will vary greatly. But we believe that there are several ways in which you can prepare for mediation, that will ultimately help you find a successful resolution for your dispute. Here are our top tips on how to prepare for mediation.

Know what to expect

People fear the unknown and that’s entirely reasonable, particularly in situations where they are also fearful of the outcome. Misconceptions or ill-informed opinions about mediation are common, but fears can be easily allayed with a little time invested in understanding the process. If you know what to expect, this will no doubt help make you feel more comfortable on the day of your mediation meeting. We have several posts on our blog that can help prepare you, specifically what to expect in each type of mediation. We also provide information on the styles of mediation available and of course the many benefits.

Know what you want but also what you’ll accept

This is key to finding success. You need to know exactly what it is you want from mediation and where possible, provide specifics about your desired outcome. Then, you need to consider what you are prepared to accept as an outcome, as that can look very different. It will be hugely beneficial if you come to mediation with a clear idea of what compromises you might be willing to make. Remember, mediation seeks to find a mutually agreeable outcome, so it is important to be clear in your own mind about what you want, and what you would be willing to concede or accept. If that is nothing, then bear in mind the consequences of not reaching an agreement. Namely, costly legal fees. It may help you reassess your position.

Be ready for heightened emotions

Because mediation focuses on the parties involved rather than the lawyers, this puts them somewhat in the spotlight. For some this can be unnerving. However, remember that mediation is all about reaching a mutually agreeable outcome. It’s power and success often comes from listening and understanding all aspects of the dispute. The mediator/s will offer guidance and assistance throughout the process, however it is important to consider that the experience could be an emotional one. This is most common in cases where the dispute has been established for a long period of time, or where the parties are in dispute over loved ones (such as in family mediation).

Of course, emotions can also be positive. To finally have the opportunity to convey your point of view and recount your grievances, may be a huge relief and therefore very emotional.  

Feel supported

Mediation is led by you, the participants. Therefore, you may choose to have someone present to offer you support. Be it a trusted friend, colleague or family member. Not only can the physical reassurance of someone being with you often help reduce stress, having someone available to offer an opinion or talk things through with, can also be invaluable. If you feel it would be beneficial to have someone present, think long and carefully about your choice. Someone who is also emotionally involved in the outcome may not offer the most impartial support.

Be mentally sharp and alert

Mediation can be exhausting so you need to be prepared and energised, ready for your meetings. Get plenty of rest the night before and as per the points above, be prepared and ready. Once in a mediation session, be sure to request breaks as you feel necessary and stay hydrated throughout.

Speak up, ask questions

If at any point in the process you don’t understand what is going on, ask your mediator. They will do their best to explain every aspect of the process before it begins. However, under pressure or in highly emotional situations, some of this can be forgotten. It is entirely feasible that you will have questions or want to ask for more information during the process.

Your mediation, your success

Remember, mediation is a dispute resolution method that depends on the cooperation and participation of all parties. This is your case and you need to understand everything that is happening. If you have any concerns over any aspect, speak to your mediator.