Mediation is a process of strategic collaboration that allows the parties to a disputed claim to settle their differences on terms that are acceptable to them. Unlike a formal hearing or trial, where the judge or jury controls the outcome of the case, in a mediation the parties themselves retain control. Also unlike a formal hearing or trial, in a mediated settlement there is no single “winner” or “loser;” instead, the parties find common ground somewhere in between.
The mediator plays an important role in assisting the parties to resolve their dispute in a way that works for them. By evaluating the relative strengths and weakness of each party’s position and “reality testing” their assumptions, the mediator helps each party weigh the risk of a bad outcome should the case proceed to hearing or trial. By building rapport, asking questions, and actively listening, the mediator facilitates effective communication between the parties. The goal is to navigate the parties away from conflict and toward a negotiated solution that satisfies their respective interests.