Top Ten Tips for People Attending Mediations

Agree on Small Things – If you can reach an agreement about anything, even that the weather has been terrible on the way to mediation, that may make it more likely you will be able to agree on the big stuff. The more times you and the other party are ale to say ‘yes’, the more likely it is that you will get a consensus.

Eat and Drink – You’re more likely to think well if you have a full stomach and are well hydrated. Being at a mediation might make you feel nervous and you may not want to eat the biscuits that are helpfully provided by the venue. Try though, if you can! Have tea and coffee breaks, get some fresh air and take time out.

Explain – You might think your position is obvious and doesn’t need explaining. Don’t assume anything: be prepared to explain your thinking and why it is that you want what you want even if you have done so before. No one knows your thoughts ad feelings apart from you.Explaining takes time and patience so don’t assume it is an easy thing to do.

Imagination – Try not to be fixed about what it is you want and / or how it can be achieved. there may be other ways and other ideas. when people meet, these ideas can sometimes be triggered if everyone is a little imaginative. You may also have to use your imagination when you listen to what other people are saying. Try to understand even if you don’t agree.

Listen – When you are explaining your decision you will probably be quite upset if you don’t feel anyone else is listening to you. That works both ways. You should try to listen to what the other party says, out of courtesy if nothing else. You don’t have to agree and you can make a note of anything you want to respond to when the other party has finished speaking. You will also have an opportunity to speak.

Relax – Being at a mediation can be stressful. You may not have attended one previously and you may never attend another one. However, you will think more clearly, listen better, explain more clearly and be more likely to reach an agreement if you are relaxed. If you feel tense, try taking a break, get some fresh air or take a short stroll.Think or talk about something else for a while and you should return to your mediation meeting feeling refreshed.

Shake Hands – Maybe you would do this anyway or perhaps you will feel you cant bring yourself to do this? If you feel the latter please do try as this will help everyone to relax, approach the problem with some joint thinking and ultimately reach an agreement.

Small Talk – It’s good for every one to remember there is a life beyond the mediation and whatever problems or issues have brought you there you were all doing other things beforehand and will be afterwards too. You may have something in common with another member of the party that you were not aware of – you might drive the same car, enjoy gardening, have the same pet? Chatting about other things during the break or whilst you make a cup of coffee can make everyone feel more relaxed and help put the problems of the mediation into perspective.

Smile – You’re more likely to get someone to agree if you smile rather than look miserable, tense or angry (even if that is how you feel). If you do it well and often enough you may actually feel more like you want to be smiling.

Trust – Trust in your mediator who will guide you through the process and try to encourage you and the other party to do all of the above points. Reaching agreement is as much (if not more) about the mediation process and how everyone responds to it as it is about the issues and whether there is a solution to be found.

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