Mediation is a low cost attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement quickly and almost certainly with nothing to lose.

Mediation is often referred to as ‘assisted negotiation’.

This has nothing to do with the experience that a negotiator has! Mediation is different in that even the most experienced negotiators may not be able to access the underlying needs of a counterpart.

Mediation is a resource for disputants. It allows for both sides’ concerns, weaknesses, strengths, and underlying interests to be discussed openly, in private, with an objective, neutral, professional – without those confidentialities being available to the other side.

Mediation is a conduit for safe dialog between adversaries.

The Mediator helps identify commonalities, shared aims, shared perspectives, and ‘tradables’ that serve to identify, activate thinking, stimulate reflection, and help generate creativity for the parties to structure their own bespoke solutions.

No value left on the table.

Your typical standoff that ends with ‘splitting-the-difference’ means the conflict was not used as a resource with positive potential to be mined. Mediation ensures that for both parties, maximum value is gained from the opportunities to trade concessions, structure mini-agreements, and work creatively with each other’s underlying concerns. “If you don’t talk it out, you will act it out.”

Joseph Grenny