Mediation is a useful exercise in understanding another point of view and pursuing an outcome in a business-like way

What is Mediation?

At its most simple, mediation is a positive, forward-thinking yet confidential process designed to resolve personal and professional disputes using a neutral third party to facilitate a settlement.

The process is completely flexible and ‘without prejudice’. The mediator helps both parties work towards a mutually satisfactory outcome of their particular difference or dispute. The mediator does not judge or impose a solution but ensures that any settlement is agreed between the two parties.

An easy way of explaining the benefits of mediation is using the story of the orange.

Imagine two children fighting over an orange. If the mother was a lawyer, she would grab the orange, cut it in half and she would decide which child gets which half of the orange, remembering to cut a piece from each half as her fee.

If the mother was an arbitrator, anticipating a further argument over which child wants which half of the orange, she imposes a solution by giving each child one half of the orange.

Fortunately, the mother is a mediator. She takes the orange from the fighting children who are by now angry, stressed, annoyed and at their wits end with no sign of a successful outcome. She sees each child privately and in confidence and explores why they both want the orange. The first child says that she’s thirsty and wants to make orange juice. The second child says that he’s hungry and wants to make marmalade. She then brings the parties together in a joint session and allows the first child to squeeze every drop of juice from the orange so she can make herself a refreshing drink. Then, the second child gets the entire peel and can make a big pot of marmalade.

Both children get exactly what they wanted in the first place. By asking the right questions, the mediator has provided the key to unlock the solution.

Our society suggests that where there is conflict, one side should win and the other side should lose. People will avoid attempting to work out a win/win because it’s hard work and requires additional effort. By working together with an experienced mediator and cooperating with each other, we have the ability to achieve a resolution that both sides are happy with – be that in our personal relationships or in our professional relationships.

To establish the respective needs and wants of both parties in a dispute, the most appropriate issues can be considered and resources can be allocated more effectively.