What Is Mediation?

The term mediation doesn’t describe a particular type of meeting.   It is more accurate to say that the term “mediation” describes a new and fundamentally different approach to conflict. 

Mediation is a collaborative and consensus building model of conflict resolution.   Instead of deciding a dispute between parties and making a ruling, as a judge or arbitrator does, a mediator will attempt to lead the parties to agreement among themselves. 

Thus, while mediation is typically described as a “meeting,” and mediation does indeed often take place in the context of a meeting, there are many different forms of mediation and many different types of meetings used in mediation.  

Mediators are skilled professionals who focus on improving communication, increasing understanding, and helping parties achieve authentic and peaceful resolution to conflict.  Mediation is not “touchy feely” but rather is grounded in the latest thinking (and even neuroscience) regarding conflict and conflict resolution.  Professional mediators generally have a professional degree or qualification in an area of relevance (e.g. law, psychology, international relations) plus additional specific training in conflict resolution.

Old school style was (1) Get My Way, (2) I Win, You Lose

conflict was seen as:

  • a battlefield with a winner and a loser
  • lawyers are experts in the battlefield
  • judges tell you what to do

Sound familiar?

New school style is: (1) I want my needs met, and maybe I can accommodate yours along the way, (2) Let’s both win

conflict is:

  • evidence that we have competing interests, not a battle
  • an opportunity to explore mutual interests and come up with mutually satisfactory solutions

Mediation EMPOWERS participants to make their  OWN DECISIONS that RESOLVE conflict for a FRACTION THE COST of litigation.

Whether it’s for a divorce, for a family meeting, or for an international boundary dispute, a mediator is the person you go to for help in this newer style of conflict resolution.  Even if  parties do not resolve every aspect of their conflict through mediation, they may be able to resolve some issues, gain some understanding, or decide upon a process to resolve the conflict.  This positive benefit allows parties to still save considerable expense even when some issues still need to be litigated.

Moreover, because the agreement is one the parties have designed for themselves, mediated agreements tend to stick, resulting in fewer enforcement actions later down the road.

Interested in learning more?  To schedule a consultation, call 803-414-0185 or use the contact form on this web site.

xan head shot May 2011 200 x 267Alexandria Skinner, Mediator

You’ve landed at a great place to learn about mediation and conflict transformation.  This is a “top 25” blog in conflict resolution with over 95 articles on different topics, ranging from divorce to mortgage foreclosure to theories of nonviolence.  Please use the pull down menu at the top right of the page (or the tag cloud) to find categories of interest.  You may also enjoy my personal blog, PeaceWorks, which is devoted more generally to peacemaking and nonviolence.  You may also wish to "like" my Facebook page, Just Mediation, where I post daily tips and links to increase skill in conflict resolution.

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