Considering a resolution for all parties involved is the primary goal, the ultimate strategy is to plant the seeds for mediation early into the process. Parties often fear their agreement to convene is a commitment to settle on terms they do not fully accept. The mediator allays this fear by stressing the voluntary nature of the process; he assures them he does not intend to force a resolution. He will facilitate a resolution the parties can agree on or everyone can walk away. He explains mediation is voluntary and the risks low.
During mediation we test our perceptions while we listen closely to discover how the other perceives us. Discovering the character we play in their movie allows us to renegotiate our role. Initially, it can be startling to discover how our adversary sees us—the character we play in their drama is not who we know ourselves to be. The key is to help your clients move forward with the process.
Greg Stone received his Masters in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law, and is the author of Preparing for Mediation: A Practical Guide.